Saturday, January 30, 2010

Sundance Film Festival: Sympathy for Delicious

Friday was the highlight of the trip. We drove to the Sundance Institute--about 45 minutes from Park City--to see a private screening of Mark Ruffalo's directorial debut: Sympathy for Delicious.

The Sundance Institute is a beautiful place, nestled in the mountains; a serene, rustic, inspiring retreat.

Sympathy for Delicious is a remarkable film, and just about impossible to sum up properly.

If I told you it was about a DJ struggling to survive living on the streets of Los Angeles, you might be disinterested.

If I then said that this DJ turned to faith healing in frustration with his paralyzed body, perhaps you would be skeptical.

If you heard that he then hooked up with an unstable rock band hoping for money and fame, you may be ready to start talking about a different movie.

But that would be a mistake.

Despite the fact that Sympathy For Delicious may not be "believable" as far as the facts go, despite the fact that it's not really about what it's about, and even despite the fact that it's a film combining faith healing, homeless people, Catholic priests, and some really dark scenes, it is a film that ultimately heals and restores hope. It somehow erases any delineation or classification of how we all might be different, and shows instead how we all might be healed.

Our AmEx group got to enjoy lunch with Mark Ruffalo, Christopher Thornton, and two others who worked on the film (forgive me for forgetting names) after our screening and found out that initial reviews of the film were quite poor (there was even a brief article in the LA Times about it's unpopularity--see We were shocked, as it had deeply touched us. I am thinking, however, that perhaps the issue is that it is a deeply felt film and as that it demands that you take the time to connect with it, because at the awards ceremony at the end of the Sundance Film Festival, Sympathy For Delicious was awarded a Special Grand Jury Prize for a dramatic film.

I, personally, couldn't be more pleased. I look forward to this piece of art being viewed by more people. No doubt it will receive more criticism, but there is also no doubt that more people will be touched by it. Not for everyone, perhaps, but quite beautiful to me. Bravo.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Sundance Film Festival Part 2

Four movies in one day, all in different theaters! Whew! Tuesday night I was so excited at the prospect of sleeping past 7am, and then I realized that we had to leave at 8am to go see our first film. 7am it was.

Our first screening on Wednesday morning was The Tillman Story, a political documentary, and I was sure I'd be fighting sleep the whole time. As it turned out, I remained remarkably awake all day--beyond my understanding, I assure you. I ended up sleeping in a wee bit on Thursday morning (skipped breakfast) and still fit in 3 films.

The Tillman Story: a professional football player gives up his career to join the Army Rangers. When he is killed, the government/media turns him into a national hero. News emerges that he was killed by friendly fire, and his family fights to uncover the real story and expose government/military corruption. It was very interesting to watch, made even better by the Q&A with the filmaker.

Grown-Up Movie Star: a Canadian fiction film about a broken family and their struggle to survive and make some sort of sense of the meaning of life. A difficult film to watch, with some abusive situations.

Me Too (Yo Tambien): this is the wonderful story of people with Downs Syndrome struggling to assimilate into normal adult life, with responsibility and love and all that jazz. It was a Spanish film--very well done.

D*****bag: a bit of a shocking title, but a fun story about relationships and the fact that things aren't always what they seem to be upon first impression. Not the most original, thought-provoking movie we've seen, but lots of laughs.

Southern District: a bit longer than it needed to be, but a lovely film nonetheless. It was from Bolivia, and showed the difference between classes/races.

Animal Kingdom: an amazing story (despite the title) taking place in Australia. Full of suspense, this is what an action flick should be.

Smash His Camera: enjoyable documentary about the papparazzi in general, and Ron Galella in specific. Hear both sides of the story here. A group of about 24 of us got to enjoy a private screening followed by dinner with the filmakers.

We are enjoying the movies and having a great time. Another early morning tomorrow!

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Sundance Film Festival Part One

I have no idea how I'll be able to keep up with this week! We are one day in, and I'm lost in a whirlwind of fabulous mountains and snow, incredible food, good company and great films.

Chris and I flew out of Long Beach with Chris' brother Jon and his girlfriend Michelle on Tuesday morning and arrived somewhere I had never been before: Salt Lake City, Utah. We didn't stay long there, however, since it was only a pit stop on our way to Park City, Utah--the center of events for the Sundance Film Festival. Park City is also a center for ski resorts, and we have the pleasure of staying in a beautiful new resort. Our suite boasts a washer and dryer, 2 bathrooms, living/dining room, seperate bedroom, fireplaces, and an amazing kitchen...hope we'll get the chance to use it a bit!

Tuesday night we saw a screening of Space Tourists, a documentary by a Swiss filmaker about the commercialization of space travel and the face of the Russian space industry. It was a great film, funny and serious, artistic and beautiful. It was followed by a great dinner afterwards that we got to share with the filmaker himself. Chris is jazzed to get a really great movie poster too. It was an amazing start to what is turning out to be a fabulous experience.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Funny Face

Our new house has one fruit tree (that we know of). I see it outside my bedroom window when first I wake, and it inspires me to make pies and juice and every good thing. It is a lemon tree. Not just any lemon tree...a lemon tree with character.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010


Our new house is loaded with may be outdated and obscure, but it was certainly cutting edge at some point. From intercoms and soda fountains to built-in barbecues, can openers and mixers, this house was decked out with all the modern conveniences...and then not changed for over 50 years. It is like stepping into a time capsule in some respects.

We stumbled across an even more amazing find after moving in. I cracked open my first issue of Smithsonian magazine and saw a little blurb about the first microwave ovens. Timothy commented that the picture looked like our unidentified wall oven...and a little digging by Chris proved that we were indeed the proud owners of an original microwave.

Speed-O-Light cooking is what it was called in the small informational booklet found in the oven's built-in recipe drawer. It goes on to explain that it doesn't cook with heat, it cooks with microwaves. This microwave had the option of simultaneously utilizing a broiler for crispness, a feature sorely lacking in our modern counterparts. The broiler is still functional, but the microwave--it appears--is not. Still a fabulous find!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Happy 11th Birthday Andrew!

Dear Andrew,
I love to see you grow: physically, mentally, spiritually; but at the same time I wish I could keep you young forever. This is a mother's struggle, I've found. I admit that I still think of you as my snuggly blond baby even as I can't wait to see how tall God has planned for you to be.

I know this year holds many things in store for you. I hope that you are looking forward to learning and growing. You are one of my favorite people! I love your thoughtful considerate spirit, your tender loving hugs, your interest in learning and your joyful smiles.

The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make His face shine on you and be gracious to you; the Lord lift His countenance on you and give you peace.

You are loved!

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Annual Book Memo

Hi!  My Name is Melody and I LOVE BOOKS.

I love to read them and hold them, buy them, borrow them, stack them, lend them, give them, touch them, talk about them, think about them, organize them by author, or by genre, or by most common reader, or by color, or by size...and typically in doses much larger than the people who surround me can handle.

So rather than inundating all you innocent people with my hefty post about the 110 books I read this year, I've decided to just link it for you.  You can read all about it right here.  (and just in case you missed those two links, here's another one here.)

Friday, January 8, 2010

Ready, Set, Move!

I've often heard sayings like "When it's meant to be, everything will fall into place" or "All in God's time" ...and I can't help but think that our house selling must be an example of this.

As we prepared to drive to Tahoe on 12/20, we had to make sure that the house was spic-n-span because there was a showing that afternoon. On 12/27 that showing materialized into an offer on the house. Before a couple of days had passed, the end--of what felt like a rollercoaster ride--had levelled out with a fair offer and an amazingly short escrow. The buyers initially wanted the deal to be done before January 1st, but due to negotiations and the holidays, it ended up being extended slightly. Still, a cash offer with a 7-day escrow sounds suspiciously providential.

So we drove back from Tahoe on 1/2, and moved out of the house (to our new house around the block) on 1/3, and then attempted to get everybody back to school and work on 1/4. To say we are tired would be an understatement!

Now we just need to unpack and organize, and figure out how to live in a 1960s house.

Workers and work trucks unite!

This is the nice & neat section of the house after moving stuff over.

The girls are so excited about their new room!

Top-o-the-bunkbed to ya...high ceilings!

Nothing like In-n-Out. Seriously. It should be on the list: 1001 Things to Eat Before You Die. Yummers.

Spices we found left in the cabinets. Think they are still good?

A few of the spices we'll be replacing them with.

The heaters work (yes, we need a heater even in So. Cal.) and new washer/dryer will be delivered today. Internet is up & running, now I just need to get this kitchen stocked and we'll be ready to go!

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Reading During the Holidays

Who knew it could be so hard to read a book or two during the holidays?  Maybe a better question would be: Who on earth thought it could be easy to read a book or two during the holidays?  Believe it or not, I did manage to read 10 books in November and December, bringing my 2009 total to 110 books!  Crazy, that.  Here's what I read in the final months:

-Tom Trueheart, Ian Beck.  Andrew has been bugging me for ages to read this book, and I finally did!  It was a fun adventure book that touched on many well known fairy tales, putting a new spin on them.

-Tirzah, Lucille Travis.  This was a reread for me; I read it aloud to my kids this time through.  I enjoyed the perspective on Old Testament history that the author provided in this book.

-A New Kind of Christian, Brian D. McLaren. Some interesting thoughts to consider for any Christian, or anyone interested in modern evangelical Christianity.

-The Johnstown Flood, David McCullough.  One of my favorite books of the year.  An incredible moment in American history detailed by a great historian and writer.

-Fairest, Gail Carson Levine.  By the author of Ella Enchanted, and written in the same style, Fairest was a very enjoyable book to read to my girls.  Thought you knew the story of Snow White? You may think differently after reading this story.

-The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle, Haruki Murakami.  Totally not my style, but very well written and engaging all the same.  This was a Book Club pick--I love how the Book Club makes me branch out.

-Mayflower, Nathaniel Philbrick.  Apart from the misleading title, this book was well written, well researched, and informative.  I know more about King Phillip's War than I ever did before, now I just have to find a book to teach me more about the Mayflower.

-The Phantom Tollbooth, Norton Juster.  This book reminded me greatly of Roald Dahl's BFG for some reason.  It was a great allegory surrounding a very bored boy.

-Olive Kitteridge, Elizabeth Strout.  I flew through this book.  I just could not stop reading it.  The writing was lovely; fluid yet to the point.  The characters very real to life, the stories heartbreaking but satisfying.

-Justin Morgan Had a Horse, Marguerite Henry.  This is the story of how the Morgan horse came into being.  I'm no expert on horses, but this was a great little piece of history to read, and a very enjoyable story.

Friday, January 1, 2010

The 1960s Quilt

This story begins around 4 years ago when my husband decided to buy a motorcycle. He may be chagrined to learn that the story of a quilt starts with him, but here it is in black and white...and we all know that everything we read is absolutely true.

So Chris decided to buy a motorcycle. I wasn't totally on board--partially due to safety concerns, but also because it takes me some time to come to terms with spending money on extras like that. When I finally accepted the fact that it was going to happen, I decided to allay any guilt Chris might be feeling by adding my own big ticket item onto bill.

I am a quilter. I love textures and textiles, and as any quilter can attest, there comes a point in every true quilter's life where you are facing a pile of quilt tops and you must decide:

1.) do I find a way to quilt the things all by myself?


2.) do I send my quilt tops out to be quilted by a long-arm quilter?

Chris' motorcycle allowed me a wonderful way to choose option one. I was a bit afraid, however, of ruining my quilt tops with my amatuer quilting, so I purchased an old quilt top on eBay for a few dollars. I quickly found out that it is far from ideal to begin quilting with poorly constructed patchwork--which is exactly what I had purchased--and so this unfinished quilt got set aside.

Until now. I'm no expert at dating fabrics, but I'm guessing that these date from the late 50's/early 60's (opinions welcome). I am absolutely certain, though, that the creator of this quilt top was no expert at anything in the quilting process. Nothing was cut correctly, nothing was square; it was a mess. I cut a mountain of strings off of it, then pressed and quilted--with nary a care for how many tucks and folds would be in the final product. I didn't even try to square it up before stitching the binding on.

And the result? I love it. The fabrics are fun and quirky, and believe it or not, it's kind of hard to see the plethora of mistakes. And it went quick--always a plus. Now I have a quilt to match my new [old] house.