Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Yes, There IS Something Fun To Do In Utah

Ok, so there isn't a big nightlife scene. So what? Unless you have absolutely no sense of adventure, you should be able to find something to do.

First of all, yes there are Mormons here, and no, they don't run everything. If you're so inclined, you can find smoke shops, bars, coffee shops, and the like. There are stores to be found that are open on Sundays.

The Salt Lake Film Society shows a lot of independant and foreign films at two locations. The Broadway Center Theater is the perfect venue for these films, and has concessions you won't find at a standard cineplex, like gourmet chocolate and a variety of coffee drinks. They also show some Sundance Festival films, which is how I met Steve Buscemi. (Too bad I can't find that picture.) The Tower Theater is a single screen bohemian paradise. The lobby hosts movies for rent (on VHS, of course) from every concievable nationality and almost every genre. Next door you'll find a coffee shop and a gay adult novelty store.

If you're into cultural events, we have the Utah Opera, the Utah
Symphony, Ballet West, Rire-Woodbury Dance Company, and various arts festivals in warmer weather. If you want family fun, we have Lagoon (amusement park), various
water parks, the Hogle Zoo, The Livng Planet Aquarium, Clark Plantarium, and the Natural History Museum.

The main activity in Utah, though, is anything outdoors. Virtually any outdoorsy thing you might be into, you can find here. Camping, hiking, rafting, kayaking, hunting, fishing, boating, four-wheeling, snowmobiling, rock climbing, and of course skiing and snowboarding... just to name a few. My favorite is camping, and I've done a lot of it in Utah throughout my lifetime. There are hundreds of campsite options, including one I took advantage of a year and a half ago: primitave camping, no fee, no reservation, not even a dedicated site. While it's safe to say this style is best left to more experienced campers, I still had a good time, and learned a lot.

My point is this: don't dismiss the opportunity to try somethng new, and try, to quote the Utah tourism commercial, "Life elevated."

Friday, February 11, 2011

Valentine's Day - More Stress Than It's Worth?

Valentine's Day comes with sometimes unreasonably high expectations. The big question: is it worth it? Let's examine the situation, shall we?

First of all, no matter what way you look at it, the burden seems to fall mostly on men. They are expected to go through the stress of picking out the right flowers, chocolates, jewelery, greeting cards, restaurant for dinner, etc, and what do women have to contribute? Show up and look nice, and maybe arrange for the babysitter. I'm a woman, I'm not denying that it can take a lot of effort to get yourself looking "Valentine's Day Date" good, but ladies, lets admit it: we enjoy the process. Men, on the other hand, as a group tend to hate shopping, and despite how much they think they pay attention, when they're standing in front of a buffet of greeting cards or gold necklaces, they have no clue where to start, and are not entirely sure of what their lady likes. When the moment arrives to present the gift or take her to dinner or whatever else is planned, there is the worry that she won't appreciate all the effort
he went to.

A woman, on the other hand, may decide making a romantic dinner is the way to go, and may go for it even when her cooking skills are (like mine) mediocre at best. There's the stress of the nice table settings and just the right meal and making sure it turns out well. Then their guy sits down to eat it and forgets to compliment her efforts, she swears she'll never go to that kind of effort ever again. (Which she does anyway, of course.)

For those who celebrate February 14 as Singles Awareness Day, you have to endure the overwhelming onslaught of marketing. Aisles of holiday items at every store, tv and radio ads for jewelery, flowers, chocolates... it's enough to make you want to lock yourself in your bedroom with anti-romance movies until it's all over.

So is it worth it? My opinion is this: if you sell greeting cards, chocolate, lingeire, flowers, or other V-day items, yes. Otherwise, no. It's too stressful, too expensive, and it's not really necessary.

This is a generalization, though. I'm sure there are a few people out there who love this holiday. I've never met any, but...

Sunday, February 6, 2011

My Travel Bucket List

The Alhambra, Spain -
Thank you to Loreena McKennitt for intoducing me to its existance. I had never heard of it until I bought her album of the concert she did there. I googled the word, and the rest is history. I have looked up countless pictures on the internet, read up on its history on Wikipedia, and I am addicted - I know I have to see it someday. I will go alone if I have to, but I will see it. It's the Muslim/Christian archetecture that fascinates me, I think. And hey, while I'm in Spain, I'll take a jaunt north to the Basque region.

The Grand Canyon, U.S.A. -
It's pretty pathetic that I live in Utah and have never been to the Grand Canyon. It's on my bucket list more because I feel like I should than because I really want to. I'm sure it's quite the spectacle, and I don't doubt that it would be worth my time, but there are other destinations that I am far more interested in.

The British Isles -
Charles Dickens, Harry Potter, Stonehenge, the Blarney Stone... I can't begin to list all the things tha fascinate and excite me about Britain and Ireland. I want to celebrate Christmas in true Dickens style, I want to ride a bicycle down an Irish country road, past stone walls and sheep herders, I want to see the home of Shakespeare, and thanks to Gilbert and Sullivan, I want to see Wales (I'm learning Welsh), I want to see Edinburgh Castle, I even want to see Penzance. Some days it seems there is more culture, more history, more excitement, more mystery packed into these two islands than into the whole of the United States. Plus my husband is 10 times more interested than I am, so I know I won't have to twist his arm to get him to go with me.

Greece - Ever since the first time I picked up a book on Greek Mythology, I have wanted to see its birthplace. Something about the crumbling walls of an ancient city captures my imagination, not to menion the whitewashed walls of cities that climb the hillside, and the vivid blue of the Mediterranean sea. There is a risk I run in visiting Greece, though - never wanting to return.

Places I've already been that I have to go back to:

New York City
Portland, Oregon
Chicago (Go Cubs!!)
San Francisco (CA)
San Diego (CA)
Santa Monica (CA)

Thursday, February 3, 2011

The Oscars Are Not A Popularity Contest

Ahhh, the Oscars. It seems like once the nominees are announced, the complaints start.

"I've never heard of most/any of these movies!"

"Why don't they ever nominate movies people actually watch?"

If you find yourself saying this, ponder the following question: how much do you know about the Nobel Prize, or Pulitzer Prize? Probably no more than I do, which is virtually nothing.

Here's the deal: the Oscars are given out by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. In essence, this means that the Oscars are for achievements in exactly that: motion picture arts and sciences. The Oscars are NOT a popularity contest the way the People's Choice Awards and MTV Movie Awards are. If all you want from your movies is entertainment, stick with those awards shows.

Now, yes, it is true that popular movies are also sometimes nominated for Oscars. "Titanic" is a good example of that, so are "Avatar" and "Star Wars: Episode IV." Unfortunately this seems to lead people to believe that other movies they like should have been nominated, like "40 Year Old Virgin" or "Letters From Juliet." There's nothing wrong with these movies, they just don't have the kind superior achievents in artistic and/or scientific fields that the Academy is going to honor as being outstanding.

Oh, I can hear it now: "Scientific? In movies?"

Uh, YES. Do you like 3D movies? Cool special effects? Digital sound? CG so good that it looks like real life? Those are all scientific applications in the movie business, and they deserve recognition.
They are the backbone of the film industry.


Of course! Not in just the obvious ways, either. Screenplays require extensive work to produce a memorable and well-executed story. Editors spend endless hours piecing different shots together to create just the right effect.

I like my movies to be entertaining, but I also like them to be of high quality film-making in every aspect. I like them to make me think. I like them to inspire me, and I'm sorry, but movies like "Paul Blart: Mall Cop" don't.

I have nothing against people who just want their movies to be entertaining. There are plenty of that kind of movie out there. Just please do me the courtesy of not complaining about your cookie-cutter movie not getting nominated for an Oscar when you are a "People's Choice" kind of person anyway.