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Pets Reviews

BarkBox Review

August 19, 2016
BarkBox Review

Looking for an honest BarkBox Review? Well then you’ve come to the right place. As you may or may not know, we go through a lot of dog toys in this house. We also go through an amazing amount of rawhide bones because they last longer than any other dog chew or toy. As you may remember I wrote about indestructible dog toys a couple years ago when I was trying to find the perfect dog toy for Ruby.

BarkBox dog toy

Unfortunately, there is no perfect dog toy for Ruby because she shreds them within minutes of getting them.

And still I try.

BarkBox Review

Getting back to my BarkBox review… I love BarkBox. I signed up last spring for this monthly subscription box and have not been let down. The BarkBox comes with two good sized toys. While they are not indestructible, they are well made, usually pretty durable and interesting to the dog. This one (and similar variations which have been since shredded) seem to be the most interesting to Ruby.

BarkBox dog toy

Each box is themed, which is sort of fun for the human, not so sure how the dogs feel about it. This toy, the one I call Man Bun (even though it is clearly a woman), seems to be a gymnast. You can pull the legs through the body making it a fun tug of war toy. The legs are made of a heavy duty rope so when the body gets chewed up the rope is left as a good teeth cleaning toy or fetch toy. The arms were removed within minutes of coming out of the box. I’m surprised she has not gotten the bun off yet.

This month the theme is California Droolin’ – it’s a box dedicated to all that awesomeness in the Golden State. It features toys like an avocado, palm tree, fish taco, and shark toys. Our box came with a hedge hog in a bathing suit and the fish taco. It also included several snacks (which are great for Stanley since he doesn’t really play with toys) such as freeze dried beef and bacon crackers.

IMG_3919

The fish taco toy was snatched from the box immediately. The poor thing lost its lips right away, followed by it’s innards. Now it’s basically a cat toy because the squeaky bits have been removed. I’m hoarding the hedge hog for a special occasion because I don’t want stuffing all over the floor.

IMG_3928

Both dogs love the treats that come in each BarkBox, usually two bags of treats and one larger chew style treat. We’ve gotten bully sticks, and other organs for the dogs to chew. Because Ruby chews with such enthusiasm I tend to give the harder chews to Stanley. He’ll take his time with them, Ruby just swallows them whole. This month’s box featured a dried steak. It’s hard but will soften as it is chewed, something necessary for Ruby.

So, in a conclusion, I love the BarkBox. It’s something to look forward to, the dogs love getting something in the mail (seriously, they are like little kids when it arrives), and it always has really high quality items in it. I don’t always feel sure about giving my dogs some of the treats you find in the big box pet stores, but the ones that come in the BarkBox are made in the USA, and are made of high quality ingredients. Of course, they love the flavors.

If you’d like to try a BarkBox for your furbabies, you can use this link  to get a free box when you sign up.

Or use the copy and paste the link below into your browser.

https://www.barkbox.com/r/GNEEW52IDH

Food How Did We Survive? Reviews Things I Really Like

Instant Pot – Does it All and More!

August 15, 2016
Instant Pot Does it all

Have you gotten an Instant Pot yet? Seriously, what are you waiting for? The Instant Pot – does it all and more! I love this thing almost as much as I love my children. It makes life so much easier and Amazon has it on sale again!!

Let’s back up a bit in case you’re like me, and had no idea what an Instant Pot was.

The Instant Pot is a really safe and polite pressure cooker from Canada. It’s got not just one, not just two, but 10 proven safety mechanisms. If you’ve cooked with a pressure cooker you know that they aren’t always safe. I’ve exploded a couple in my time. In fact, it was a rite of passage growing up. My dad gave me a pressure cooker when I moved out. The kind that goes on top of the stove. I’d seen him explode one once or twice so I was prepared. It didn’t help. Good thing I wanted to paint my ceiling again anyway.

So safety is important. Just look at how wonderfully safe it is!

Did I mention polite? It’s Canadian so it has to be. Still, the box cracked me up. American products are all like plug me in and hopefully I’ll work right. Not this lovely Canadian Instant Pot, it’s saying please and thank you all over the place. Also the instruction manual, it’s got a cheat sheet since it understands no one ever reads those things. It’s also got a website which is really helpful with tips, tricks and recipes.

Getting back to safety…. The Instant Pot pressure cooker is safe, it as a release valve on it so you can let out all of the steam and not burn off your face or blast beef stew all over your kitchen ceiling, two really important features.

You may have seen those infomercials on late night TV where the guy cooks a metric ton of chicken wings in about 5 minutes. That’s the Power Pressure Cooker, the American version of the Instant Pot, though truth be told the Power Pressure Cooker could have come first, I don’t really know. It is the pressure cooker I had before I got my Instant Pot. I loved it, it is a great product (you can see a great compare and contrast of the two pressure cookers here), but my son borrowed it from me when he hosted a group of friends and I haven’t seen it since. So instead of buying another of the same I wanted to try the Instant Pot, and I am so glad I did!

So, what all does the Instant Pot do?

Instant Pot – Does it All and More!

  • Slow cook
  • Rice
  • Soups
  • Chili
  • Oatmeal
  • Stews
  • Hot dish (casseroles for you non Minnesotans)
  • Yogurt (seriously, you can make yogurt in this thing!!!)
  • And basically anything you might cook on the stove or in the oven you can cook in the Instant Pot for a fraction of the time.

Cooking with pressure allows you to cook foods faster and to retain their moisture, unlike conventional oven cooking. Because you can do it all in one pot, you save yourself all kinds of cleanup. Because you can do it in a fraction of the regular cooking time there’s no excuse to feed your family healthy meals because you didn’t think ahead and pull something out of the freezer so now you’re grabbing your keys and heading to the nearest drive thru.

Life Changing Cooking Appliance

Instant Pot (and pressure cooking) has been a thing for a couple of years now, but recently Amazon put it on sale for its Prime Day at something like $69. Normally it sells for from $100 to $159 (with the Power Pressure Cooker running about the same), so at $69 it’s a bargain, hell buy two, you’ll use them.

I got the Instant Pot IP-DUO60 7-in-1 Multi-Functional Pressure Cooker, 6Qt/1000W a couple of weeks ago (it’s the larger version, the one that makes yogurt) and have cooked in it almost every night. I’ve made pulled pork (20 minutes), Shrimp Alfredo (7 minutes), baby potatoes (7 minutes), and my favorite, a cheesy smoked sausage hot dish. All were delicious and so easy to prepare.

Instant Pot meals

The only drawback that I can see to the Instant Pot is that you cannot can with it. It’s too small at only 6 quarts (you need a 10 quart vessel to can properly). The Power Pressure Cooker does have a canning feature, so if that’s what you’re looking for be sure to check it out. I don’t can that often (though I would like to), so I’d use my huge ass canning pot if I needed to.

Have you gotten your Instant Pot yet? What did you think about it?

Reviews

A Review – Independence Day: Resurgence

June 25, 2016

Here’s my review – Independence Day: Resurgence. Even though all the reviews of Independence Day: Resurgence have been less than stellar I was still really looking forward to seeing the sequel to Independence Day. If you liked the original movie you’ll probably see this one no matter what I say or other reviews say.

It wasn’t the worst movie I’ve ever seen

I saw ID4 – 2 at the Mall of America on the opening weekend (Saturday). It was 95° in the Twin Cities and the mall was packed, and there were maybe 15 people in the theater to see Independence Day: Resurgence.

Listen, this movie was no more improbable than the first one. In fact, it’s the exact same plot with some of the same people. Unfortunately they left out a few people that might have made the movie just a little bit better.

Will Smith’s character, Steven Hiller, has been killed out of the movie franchise (yes, they have two more in the works, let’s hope the next two are better). There are a lot of stories floating around about why he wasn’t in this sequel – bad timing, Will was demanding $50 mil to name a few – but if he was smart it was because he read the script and realized it sucked. This is apparently what Susan Sarandon did when offered the part of President Lanford, it was a smart move.

Will Smith could have brought some much needed comic relief to the movie, instead that task fell to Brent Spiner who plays Dr. Brackish Okun. Spiner actually did a pretty remarkable job and carried a good part of the movie. His storyline was certainly the most interesting and nuanced.

Another person sadly missing from reboot was Mae Whitman. She played the daughter of President Whitmore in the original movie. While her character is in the sequel, they brought someone else in to play her. It’s too bad because Mae Whitman would have been a better choice. They should have brought back Harvey Fierstein, but his character died in the original.

Other returning actors include Judd Hirsch, Jeff Goldblum and Vivica A. Fox. I’m not really sure why they were brought back as their stories were a bit convoluted and confusing.

Actually most of the movie was convoluted and confusing

The most confusing part was the introduction of William Fichtner’s character General Adams. Confusing only because he played Colonel Willie Sharp in Armageddon, a very similar character.

Which got me thinking, Independence Day: Resurgence could have been a much more entertaining movie, especially because the script was contrived of just about every great action/adventure movie from the 90s – Jurassic Park, Armageddon, Terminator, Alien (ok, this one was 70s and 80s), if it had taken itself less seriously – I don’t know maybe make a parody of the genre like the Naked Gun and Airplane movies?

Jeff Goldblum could have played dual roles as both David Levinson and Malcolm. Hell, he could have thrown Seth Brundle in there too (to be fair, they are all the same neurotic character, just with different names). Instead of sending Bill Pullman up the alien ship to detonate the nukes, Bruce Willis should have been brought in – for just that task. It would have been funny, trust me.

Instead, we are left with this movie that really needed a few more years marinating before being brought to film.

I don’t regret seeing the movie, for $6 it was worth it to sit in a cool theater looking at Liam Hemsworth on the big screen. Hopefully they’ll either can the next two or figure out how to make them work.

Have you seen Independence Day: Resurgence? If so, what did you think?

Reviews

The UPS Store Launches #SmallBizSalute – Giveaway!

April 25, 2016

In celebration of National Small Business Month (May), The UPS Store is launching #SmallBizSalute an initiative celebrating small business owners in cities across the country. As an extension of The UPS Store’s commitment to the small business community, the Small Biz Salute campaign rewards entrepreneurs for their hard work and gives them an opportunity to network and support each other, through special events and celebrations that bring small business owners together.

In an effort to facilitate the link between small business owners, The UPS Store is launching the month-long campaign to give entrepreneurs in several of the nation’s top small business cities – Minneapolis, Nashville, Phoenix, Houston – special opportunities to make meaningful connections with other entrepreneurs in their communities and gain valuable advice from small business experts. Several local businesses will be selected to pitch business to a panel of judges; one business owner will walk away with $5,000 to help grow their small business.

I was provided the opportunity to use the UPS Store for this event. I created a lovely business card for my Web Design and Social Media Management services. The UPS Store provides many great templates as well as an easy-to-use format for all your printing needs. It’s easy-to-use and affordable. Want to give it a try? Then leave a comment below for a chance to win a $25 gift card from the UPS Store to try for yourself.

How to Participate in #SmallBizSalute

  • The UPS Store will be hosting events to provide small business owners with the opportunity to meet and network with other owners in the area, as well as offering the chance to compete in a pitch competition to win $5,000 to grow their business. The Minneapolis event is May 4th, 6-8pm at the Minneapolis Event Center located at 212 2nd Street Southeast, Minneapolis, MN 55414.
  • The pitch competition will give contestants 3 minutes to pitch their business to a live audience and a panel of judges and explain how an investment can help grow their business. The best pitch will win $5,000.
  • Contestants can apply online prior to the event. Full rules, eligibility, and the submission form can be found here.
  • Use The UPS Store promo code SALUTE25 for 25% off their entire online print site.

About The UPS Store #SmallBizSalute

  • Nationally, The UPS Store will be encouraging people to “salute” their favorite local small business owner by giving them a shout out on social media with #smallbizsalute. The goal is to celebrate and recognize these local SBOs in our communities.
  • As an extension of The UPS Store’s commitment to the small business community, the Small Biz Salute campaign recognizes small businesses for their hard work and gives them an opportunity to network and support each other.
  • The UPS Store believes that Small Biz Salute is our chance to take a moment to pause, recognize and celebrate small business owners, who do so much for our local communities and economies.
  • With more than 4,500 locations nationwide, The UPS Store is committed to helping small business owners everywhere launch and grow their business every day.
  • The UPS Store locations are locally owned and operated. The stores are not only run by small business owners, but are there to support local startups, entrepreneurs and small businesses, help solve their problems and connect with their peers.
  • The UPS Store can serve as resource and provide small businesses with unique product and service offerings that help them run their business.

Giveaway Details

  • Leave a comment below describing how you’d use your $25 UPS Store gift card, what would you make?
  • Share this post on social media.
  • Winner will be chosen by May 15th.

 

Books Reviews Things I Really Like

Romantic as Hell – A Review

March 11, 2016
Romantic as Hell Book Cover

Romantic as Hell – A Review

So maybe 6 or 7 months ago Rodney Lacroix asked me to review his newest book, Romantic As Hell. Rodney is one of my favorite authors so I was delighted to be asked. Of course if he had asked my via email or Facebook I might have responded sooner than the three months it took for me to respond through my Linkedin account where he messaged me.

Rod, or mooooooog, as many of you know him from the glory days of blogging, is one of the funniest writers out there if you like stuff written for 12 year old boys. He writes the best potty humor out there, bar none. Lately, maybe the last couple of years, he’s even worked in some really deep and heartfelt posts into his normal adolescent fare. It’s not really normal, most late 40 something men don’t talk this way. They may think it, (okay, the probably all think it) but they don’t usually share it. Whatever it is, it’s some of the funniest stuff you’ll ever read.

So, I was thrilled to be asked by Rod himself to review his latest book.

And Rod puts out a book like every six months it seems. It’s taken me nearly ten years to write one fucking book (and it’s still being edited!), but Rod can put out three in the same time it takes me to clean my garage. I’m a little jealous to say the least.

So last night I finally got to reading the book. I’d been looking forward to reading it ever since he sent it to me, but actually sitting down to read has been something I have not managed to do in a long, long time. Pretty much unless I can read while waiting at the doctor’s office I don’t read anymore. I still buy books, I just don’t read them. I want to, I really do, but there’s a lot of really good TV on these days.

Anyway, I read Romantic as Hell by Rodney Lacroix and laughed my ass off. I also got scared a few times (Rod gave me the Mobi version to read so I read it on my computer which meant I had to scroll down to read it. I scrolled down and was faced with this.

Romantic as Hell by Rodney Lacroix

I about crapped my pants.

Romantic As Hell is a book filled with surprisingly good dating and relationship tips.

No, really, it is.

Rodney has taken his wonderfully illustrious career at striking out in the dating world and shared it with the world so that men would no longer be compelled to present their significant others with gifts that are guaranteed not to get them laid.

Seriously guys, it’s not that hard. Don’t get us things that clean the house unless it’s a guy named Sven.

If you’re a guy and are striking out in your relationships you NEED this book. There really is some sound advice hidden within the side splittingly funny stories Rod shares at his own expense. Chicks will dig you if you buy this book, read this book and actually follow its advice.

Ladies, you don’t need to buy this book because you already know this stuff, but it is insightful to read it to see how a guy’s mind actually works. Not that you’ll even consider that an excuse for any of the mistakes they make, but it’s still interesting. You won’t need to read this book but you’ll want to because it really is hilarious. Go out and get some of those new Poise pee pads before you do.

If you haven’t read Rod’s other books Things Go Wrong For Me and Perhaps I’ve Said Too Much, you’ll want to snag those too. Just make sure to get more Poise pee pads when you do.

 

Huh Music People Reviews WTF?

Beyoncé and Red Lobster

February 9, 2016
Red Lobster Beyonce Formation

Evidently, Beyoncé has single handedly* increased sales at Red Lobster because of her new song Formation. Apparently, when he fuck her good, she takes his ass to Red Lobster.

No shit, those are the lyrics to her newest song (anthem, really) that she performed (I think) during the Super Bowl half time show this past weekend.

I’m not really sure if she performed it because the audio was so horrible and it was difficult to hear any of the musicians sing. It didn’t help that I was worried about Chris Martin’s back injury – talk about the show must go on! The man couldn’t stand up and yet there he was out there shouting or mumbling or whatever the heck he was doing while Beyoncé and Bruno Mars funked it up.

According to all news sources today, Red Lobster’s sales have increased 33% since the song Formation was dropped this past weekend due to these lyrics –

When he fuck me good I take his ass to Red Lobster, cause I slay

Look, I’m no relationship expert, I’ve been divorced twice, but if the fucking is good I should think one might want to reward the person doing the good fucking by bringing him to a restaurant that was actually pretty good. It doesn’t have to be Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse or McCormick and Schmick’s, but maybe Ruby Tuesdays or Outback Steakhouse? Hell, most of the guys I might reward with food after performing well would prefer Chipotle over Red Lobster.

I’m not sure what she means by “slay” either. According to the dictionary it means to kill someone or to impress someone. According to the Urban Dictionary it means – mercilessly fuck, or to do something awesomely well.

I think we can assume its usage is not in reference to mercilessly fucking anyone since it was he who fuck(ed) her good.

Let’s see if we can get some context from the next set of lyrics.

After she takes him out to get some shoes…

I might get your song played on the radio station, cause I slay
I just might be a black Bill Gates in the making, cause I slay

I’m going to make a leap and suggest she’s using “slay” in the do something awesomely well definition.

So I repeat, if she is doing so well, and I think we can all agree that Beyoncé is doing pretty well for herself, why not take her bae to a really nice place?

According to the internet, this song was also about all kinds of black empowerment, woman empowerment and other empowerments – It just went completely over my head during the Super Bowl. I am not the only one. Many people, mostly white, middle aged women who want to know what all the fuss is about, are asking on social media. So far has been construed as racism, because ….America.

I just thought she was channeling Janet Jackson and Rhythm Nation.

It’s not racism, most of the people who are questioning this song at all simply didn’t understand the lyrics (because they don’t make much sense at all – Red Lobster for good sex?!?!?!?!), or because they couldn’t understand the lyrics (slay).

It might just be generational rather than racism, but you can decide for yourself, here’s the original video with NSFW lyrics, the video gives it better context than the Super Bowl performance.

(*or maybe not, it could be Lobsterfest)

Advice Reviews Things I Really Like

Best Valentine’s Day Present

January 22, 2016
Valentine's Day gift ideas

Over the past several years I’ve been writing this funny little blog I’ve talked a few times about what not to get someone for various holidays. I’ve talked about the worst gifts you could give (because I’ve received them) but I’ve never written a post about the best Valentine’s Day gifts to give before. I’ve written about the worst Mother’s Day gifts, the worst Christmas present ever and the worst Valentine’s Day gifts. In most of those posts I caution anyone who is looking to give a heartfelt gift to steer clear of appliances, especially those that assist with household chores.

Today, I take that all back.

If you’re looking to give the perfect gift to your aunt, your wife, you mother, your daughter, your father your brother, your boyfriend or girlfriend – whoever you want to present with a gift, then consider getting them a Dyson.

Yes, I’m suggesting buying your loved one, your Valentine, a vacuum.

When I wrote those other posts I had never used a Dyson. Now, after all these years, I have.

The Dyson is such a superior product I don’t even know how to articulate it.

I’ve had so many crappy vacuums over the years (they’re all crappy compared to the Dyson) and I’ve had some pretty decent ones (Oreck). None of them even come close to the Dyson.

I have two dogs, two cats, two children and two parakeets. My house smells like dog butt and there is hair EVERYWHERE.

Not anymore.

Last week I got a Dyson from QVC (easy pay rules!). This thing is so amazingly wonderful I feel like Monica about taking care of my vacuum.

(OMG that looks like an old Dyson!!)

Now that I have vacuumed my house with a Dyson, my house no longer smells like dog butt, I don’t have cobwebs, I don’t have dust bunnies, I don’t have cat hair everywhere.

This superior vacuum makes me want to make my house worthy of its service. I am compelled to paint the walls, fix the stairs, and upgrade the electric service now that I have this wonderful machine.

Why didn’t anyone every tell me how wonderful this machine was?

Get your loved one a Dyson for their birthday, Valentine’s Day, Christmas, Hanukah, Mother’s Day or Father’s Day. Get them this wonderful appliance and turn their life around!

Get them chocolate and wine too, just in case.

 

Reviews

Joy Movie Review

January 6, 2016
Joy Movie Poster

Joy Movie Review, no spoilers – well, maybe some.

Joy is the story of Joy Mangano, the woman who invented the Miracle Mop. It probably goes without saying, this is a chick flick. When we got to the AMC theater at Southdale in Edina, there was a bit of a line of all women waiting to enter the theater. I don’t know that any men were in the theater for that showing. There was a baby, one who cried for most of the second act, it was probably a boy.

Stellar Cast

Getting back to the movie. Joy looked like a good movie, the trailer was captivating, if not a little misleading. Joy is played by Jennifer Lawrence, Joy’s father is played by Robert DeNiro. The father’s character is played by Isabella Rossellini and Joy’s mother is played brilliantly by Virginia Madsen. Bradley Cooper plays some guy at QVC, but that is inconsequential because he isn’t in much of the movie and his role isn’t particularly interesting. He and Jennifer Lawrence have little of their past chemistry.

Interesting Story

What is interesting is the family dynamic – which is mostly fictional.  In the movie Joy is the one who keeps the family together against everyone’s attempt, but hers, to break it apart. Some people would call her an enabler while others would call her crazy for putting up with the family she’s been given.

The story is centered around Joy’s invention of, and eventual success in, selling her Miracle Mop on QVC. Currently she is on HSN selling her mop if you’d like to catch the real thing. It’s an interesting story and could have been told better than it was in this movie.

It Was OK

The movie wasn’t bad, I just had higher expectations with the stellar cast. And the cast were all great in their roles, most of them just played horrible characters.

The movie was uneven at best. It had some interesting elements to it but they never quite caught on. Virginia Madsen’s character, Terry, is a fascinating character. She is Joy’s mother who has apparently been stuck since her divorce from Joy’s father. She lives in the living room of Joy’s home and spends her day in bed watching soap operas. I can relate to this woman as my mother spent most of my childhood in the living room watching soap operas. I could related to that kind of craziness and Virginia Madsen played her brilliantly. When Joy’s father moves into the basement, where Joy’s ex husband is already living there, it could have gotten interesting but they never really did much with it.

English: Actor Edgar Ramirez at the Domino fil...

English: Actor Edgar Ramirez at the Domino film press conference. Photo by: Vera Anderson (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

He’s Worth Watching

Édgar Ramírez, who plays Joy’s ex husband, is really the best reason to watch this movie. He’s just really hot. He may be a fine actor, but I wouldn’t know because I could only focus on how beautiful he is. He plays one of the few likable characters in the movie, someone who actually cares about Joy. The story is interesting and if you’d like to learn more about Joy’s story you can read it here.

The movie was intended to be inspirational and on that point it hit, it just hit heavy handed in some areas.

Joy is more like Silver Linings Playbook than it is American Hustle, even if it has the same cast. It was an entertaining movie, but one you might prefer watching from your couch rather than in a theater.

Have you seen Joy, what did you think?

Events Reviews

Star Wars: The Force Awakens – Spoiler Free Review for non Fanatics

December 16, 2015

Honest, spoiler free review of Star Wars: The Force Awakens from a non fan.

I was very privileged to be given an opportunity to see the newest Star Wars movie on Tuesday, a couple of days before the official premier. Star Wars: The Force Awakens is the talked about movie event of the year. People have been lining up for weeks to be first in line to see the latest in the Star Wars series.

Unlike those lining up and camping out for days to see the movie, and also unlike most everyone else on the planet, I have not seen the other Star Wars movies so I went into The Force Awakens with no preconceived ideas about what to expect (except that I expected it to be pretty good since JJ Abrams was at the wheel this time around.

How is it that I could be an 11 year old when the first Star Wars was released and not actually see the franchise? Good question, and one I’ve been answering a lot lately. I don’t know. I saw other movies that year including The Goodbye Girl, Airport ’77, The Deep, Oh, God!, Heroes, Saturday Night Fever and High Anxiety. I also figured Star Wars was a boy’s movie. My brother and his friends saw it repeatedly and talked about it all the time so if my brother loved it, I probably wouldn’t – was my thinking back then. When the sequels came out I hadn’t seen the original so didn’t bother to see them. Sure, I’ve seen bits and pieces of them over the years and I have a pretty general idea what they are about, I just hadn’t seen them from start to finish.

The viewing experience was minimal at best –  11am on a Tuesday, no pop, no popcorn, no Jujubes. Thankfully the theater that I, four other women and about 45 men saw it in was directly across from the restrooms.

We were not allowed to have our phones in the theater with us and any bags were searched and we all got the metal detecting wand as we entered the theater. I was okay about this given other movie openings.

I wasn’t sure I’d be able to follow the story from the beginning, I figured there’d be a learning curve, but thankfully the opening credits of the movie, the part with the words scrolling through the galaxy to John Williams amazing orchestral piece, gave a pretty decent synopsis of what had taken place in the story so far.

Basically the story is about finding Luke Skywalker. There are a few new characters and many of the old ones everyone loves so much. It is the new characters – Finn, Poe, Rey and BB8 – that really move the story along. Daisy Ridley, who plays Rey, is captivating.

I was hoping to review Star Wars: The Force Awakens as a stand alone movie but it really isn’t. Don’t get me wrong, it was fun, filled with humor, romance, excitement and surprises, it just would have made a lot more sense if I had seen episodes 4, 5 and 6 of the series (or 1,2 and 3 for those of who remember when the first one was just called Star Wars). Because the movie is the first in the final trilogy of the Star Wars franchise it ended as such. Not really a cliff hanger, just the place where it made the most sense to end a movie that already has two sequels.

I’m not complaining, I’m looking forward to seeing the next two (really more interested in seeing the first three) movies it’s just that this one ended not unlike the first part of episode three of The Hunger Games ended. With more of a whimper, not a bang. It was slightly unsatisfying.

The first Star Wars movie (Star Wars Episode IV – A New Hope) may have been conceived as three trilogies but when it was made they didn’t know if it would be successful enough to have a sequel. The movie ended when that part of the story ended. Everyone wanted more but it could have stood on it’s own. The story was told. I didn’t get that feeling here.

It was entertaining, funny, and exciting but it wasn’t groundbreaking. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. I’d give it a solid B. If you’re a fan, you’re going to love it no matter what. You many not see it 100 times like you did the original Star Wars but you won’t be disappointed.

I’ve seen many movies with my 12 year old daughter this year. From Paul Blart Mall Cop 2 to Minions to the final Hunger Games movie. Most of the time when the movie is over, before the credits start to roll, people get up to leave. A few of the movie we saw this past summer – Jurassic World and Terminator Genysis people not only stayed for the credits but they also clapped when the movie ended.

No one clapped when Star Wars: The Force Awakens, and no one bothered to stick around for the credits.

Is it worth seeing? Yes, absolutely.  It just probably won’t live up to expectations.

 

 

 

Reviews Things I Really Like

Unbiased Review of Terminator Genisys

July 1, 2015
Terminator Genisys movie poster

This is an unbiased review of the new Terminator Genisys movie in theaters now. I have not been compensated for this review and the views are all my own. Last night I dragged my 12 year old daughter to the Mall of America to see Terminator Genisys. She was hesitant to go, action movies are not really her thing and yet she acknowledged I’d sat through enough cartoons, anime and Pixar movies and could finally choose something I wanted to see. She’s a great kid.

Creative

I’ve been a huge fan of the Terminator movies since the first one was released in 1984. It was such a different kind of movie. Sure there was a lot of action but the “what ifs” were what got me hooked. What if the machines take over? What if there was a nuclear war started on accident? What if time travel is possible? Seeing The Terminator got me wondering about a lot of things that before I’d seen it had never paid any attention to. Apocalyptic movies, books and TV shows are some of my favorite things. I like considering the end of the world for a lot of reasons and thinning the herd is one of them but so is prevention. Technology is moving so fast and sometimes when we acquire the knowledge to do something revolutionary with technology we forget to ask if we should do it.  The Terminator movies are a cautionary tale.

On to the movie review of Terminator Genisys. The movie officially opens today but the Mall of America was showing it last night. The daughter and I saw the 7pm show in a theater that had maybe 30 people in it, mostly single, white men who probably work in IT, just what I would expect. There may have been one other female in the theater. We snuck in popcorn from Doc Popcorn because the Mall of America has horrible popcorn. This was not always the case, it used to be much better but the last few movies we’ve seen there it’s been just horrible so we brought our own*.

Imaginative

I don’t want to give anything away about the storyline and truth be told the time travel aspect was a bit confusing for me. It may have been that I missed the explanation about how the timeline fractured making the 1984 of the original Terminator different. Actually 1984 itself looked the same, it was Sarah Connor who was different. Instead of being a mousy waitress who reluctantly goes on to change the world she’s a badass woman who takes no prisoners. I’m still unsure what happened to change it but the movie had fun recreating well known scenes from the first movie so that the T-800 of the original 1984 could battle the other T-800 — basically Ah-nold vs Ahnold — it was epic!

Stunning F/X

Terminator Genisys elevated the car chase scene to heights never seen before. They raised the bar with special effects and really imagination. Many of the stunts just seemed unimaginable. The movie starts with a bang and never really stops.

The storyline was the same as it was the first time around in The Terminator, and that should be no surprise to anyone. Of course just when you think you know how something will play out they turn the tables keeping you guessing. Sure, some was predictable but so what?

More than anything I loved how 2015 a great time for this movie. Who knew Facebook was Cyberdyne? We all login on a daily and willing help Skynet become self aware.  I’d read somewhere that the inspiration for Terminator Genisys was Back to the Future 2 and 3. Pretty much, just a lot darker.

Spectacular

There are a whole host of funny moments in this movie. Arnold Schwarzenegger is outstanding in this role and plays it to the hilt. His performance was worth the tickets and the popcorn alone. The rest of the actors did well, nothing to complain about though Jai Courtney’s Kyle Reese was very different from the original war wear Kyle played by Michael Biehn. That could be explained by his story and basically having two sets of possible memories. Emilia Clarke’s performance was fine, safe. She didn’t play it much differently than her role as Daenerys Targaryen from The Game of Thrones, and that’s ok. Because of the fractured timeline they are all different characters than they are in the first Terminator movie so I have no complaints.

Loved It

In fact I have no complaints about Terminator Genisys. It was wonderful and I enjoyed myself immensely. There were a few surprises, lots of laughs and it was a hugely fun experience. Terminator Genisys returns the franchise to it’s original roots where it doesn’t take itself too seriously, unlike the Terminator Salvation which in my opinion should have been a Batman movie it was so dark. Terminator Genisys is not a dark movie, it is a movie of hope and wonder and imagination.

This is a stand alone movie, you don’t need to see the original Terminator movies to understand what is happening in this movie or to enjoy it but just like with Jurassic World if you’ve seen the original movie it enhances and makes the current movie more enjoyable for all the Easter eggs that have been sprinkled through the film.

I don’t have a rating system but if I had to rate this movie I’d say 9 out of 10 thumbs up or stars or whatever the current unit of measure is for a movie. It was fun, fantastic, thought provoking and I’d see it in a theater again. Though I don’t think I’d be able to drag my daughter to see it again.

Have you seen Terminator Genisys? Did you like it?

*The Mall of America had the sound turned all the way up to 11 for this showing of the movie. It was too bad because there were times my daughter had to cover her ears. It would have been a better viewing experience without the 3D and if they’d turned the sound a few notches.

Dumb Shit I Do Reviews

Does the NoNo! Hair Removal System Really Work

April 10, 2015

If you’re like me you’ve wondered about the NoNo! hair removal system that is all over home shopping networks and late night TV. Does the NoNo! Hair Removing System really work and more importantly how does the NoNo! work?

I wondered that too because I am always looking for an easier way to have smooth legs without stubble the next day. I love the way my legs feel right after shaving but it only lasts for a day at best. Full disclosure, I come from an extremely hair family. My father was so hairy he’d have to shave his face twice a day and never needed a sweater because he could grow one himself. My brother is the same way. I don’t have have hair on my back or chest but my legs get pretty furry if I don’t shave often.

And I hate shaving so I’ve been on the hunt for something that removes hair, leaves my legs feeling smooth and doesn’t hurt. Shaving meets all of those requirements but I have to do it regularly and the results don’t last long. I tried waxing once, it hurt, it didn’t leave my legs smooth on the first try, and it was expensive. And, I had to get nearly naked in front of a stranger and that is something I’d rather not do if I can help it.

So, after too many sleepless nights watching the infomercial for the NoNo! I decided to purchase a NoNo! from HSN because they offered flexible payments and offered a money back guarantee. The NoNo! is kind of expensive so I wanted to make sure if it didn’t work for me that I could return it. I read many reviews before purchasing and while many of them said the product didn’t work it seemed to be due to user error more than a deficiency in the device. Most people used it once and expected smooth skin but it doesn’t work that way, as stated in the sales video or any of the documentation found online. There were a few very positive reviews and all said that you needed to use the product on a regular basis to achieve the desired results.

I got the NoNo!Pro which came with a bunch of Thermicon tips for use on the legs, arms, bikini area and face. The package I purchased came with a carrying case, a CD, and a bunch of gem stickers so I could bling out my NoNo!. I gave them to the daughter and she blinged the dogs. Can’t imagine why anyone would want to add gem stickers to their shaving device but…whatever.

Using the NoNo! takes a little practice. You have to hold it at a 90° angle and pull it against the grain of the hair in a smooth motion. This keeps the Thermicon tip engaged. If you don’t move it in a smooth and continuous movement the device will sort of jerk. It’s to prevent the NoNo! from burning your skin.

That’s how it works, the NoNo! burns the hairs as you drag it across your skin. They don’t show this in the commercials that I’ve seen. Because it is burning the hairs you can see little puffs of smoke and you can smell the distinct smell of burning hair as you use it. The directions promote this as a good thing because “that’s how you know it’s working!”.

I’ve only used it a couple of times and the documentation clearly states it takes 4-6 weeks to achieve the desired results, so I’m not ready to suggest you go out and buy a NoNo! just yet but so far, my experience with the product has been very positive. It is easy to use, it doesn’t hurt at all and my legs are getting smoother after just two uses.

Have you tried the NoNo!? What was your experience, did the NoNo! keep your legs smooth?