Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry

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Ai Wiewei first made a blip on my radar during the awe inspiring opening ceremony of the 2008 Beijing Olympics, but he captured my spirit with his inspiring art installations.  Back in March, I documented my experience with his Sunflower Seeds exhibit at the Tate Modern, (see Seeds to Ponder) and since then I’ve continued to explore his work and life.

A documentary entitled, Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry, opens in theaters this weekend.  This remarkable film provides insight into the courageous and vibrant voice of a man that refuses to be silenced. Filmmaker Alison Klayman tracks everything from the artist bent on creating evocative works of art to the outspoken activist that has found himself detained more than once by the Chinese government. Klayman catches it all with a smart balance of unrelenting honesty and humor, which serves as perfect reflection of the man himself.

Watching Ai Weiwei fight for his beliefs ignites that little spark that burns in everyone.  At one point in the film he offers a statement that pretty much says it all:

Freedom is a pretty strange thing. Once you’ve experienced it, it remains in your heart and no one can take it away.

Prepare to be inspired . . .

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c.b.w. 2012

My Favorite Meant To Be Couples

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I haven’t always been huge on the holiday filled with red, pink (my least favorite color), teddy bears and large monkeys, but I do love love.  There is something magical about someone accepting and adoring you for who you are no matter what.  My husband is that man for me and I don’t need a holiday to appreciate all he does for me because I thank my lucky stars each and every day that he remains by my side.

Okay, I’m done being all mushy.  Being the fangirl I am (see The Authograph Ninja), I can’t help but have a little fun.  While real life love is the best thing out there, I am a sucker for TV couples from some of my favorite shows.  Here are my favorites:

Jim and Pam from The Office

Best TV Kiss Ever!

Sheldon and Amy from The Big Bang Theory

Most Awkward TV Kiss

Mary Margaret and David (or their alter egos Snow and Prince Charming) from Once Upon A Time

TVs Best Fairy Tale Kiss

And just for fun, a few from the movies:

Edward and Bella

Best. Couple. Ever

Ron and Hermione

Long Overdue, but Worth It!

Ariel and Prince Eric

Kiss the Girl!

Peter Parker and Mary Jane

Best Superhero Kiss

Of course, there are a slew more that I love, but these popped into my head first. Happy Valentine’s Day to my family, friends, and readers! May your day be filled with love and joy.

What are your favorite couples?

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c.b. 2012

Wreck This Journal: Smile

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The last few Wreck This Journal posts highlighted some critical epiphanies, so I thought it was time to be a little more lighthearted.  There are several blank pages in the journal, which I’ve decided are there for me to experiment with my own ideas.  On one of those blank pages I created a little shrine for a few things in life that make me happy.  Aside from family, friends, and a slew of other little joys, these are some of my favorite things that keep me smiling:

The curve of the book makes it hard to read so I’ll fill in a few blanks!

Books . . . make me think.  I’ve had a book in my hand every since I was little girl.  To this day, a lot of my free time is spent reading everything from literature, mainstream, YA, and historical non-fiction.  It’s a passion!  Every evening, I look forward to time with a good book.

Chocolate . . . is a food group (I swear it is).  This will probably be my undoing, but I can’t resist that sweet, smooth, and delectable treat.  It’s almost like I have a relationship with this stuff, (especially Reese’s Peanut Butter cups!).

Movies . . . remind me to dream.  I go to the movies almost every weekend ($5 on Sunday mornings!) and I have a massive DVD collection in my home.  And never mind, what I keep on my iPod!  I love just about every genre as long as its well-made, original, fun, or thought provoking.  Movies take me to another place and let my imagination go crazy.

TV . . . is both good and bad.  I only watch a handful of shows, but once or twice a week I’m glued to the TV.  After a long day of work or a hard day of writing, my brain needs a break!  Currently, I’m watching Big Bang Theory, Person of Interest, The Office (sometimes), Once Upon a Time, and Psych.

Crosswords . . . keep me searching for the right words.  Every day after work, I sit down with a bowl of cereal and complete a crossword puzzle.  It’s relaxing and it keeps my mind sharp.  As a writer, I’m fascinated by words and I think its incredibly important to always keep my inner dictionary fresh and updated.

Music . . . is my emotional soundtrack.  My iPod is never more than a couple feet away from me.  It’s filled with playlists for every mood, writing project, or event in my life.  Some of my playlists include: At the Movies, Bluesy Rock, BritFolk, Cheese Factory (essentially this is guilty pleasure music that is cheesy beyond belief), Christmas, Classical, Rainy Day, Running Music, If I Could Dance, Easy Listening, Feel Good Mix, and Feelin’ Fierce.  There’s many more, but this is already sounding a bit crazy!

Barnes & Noble Cafe . . . makes me smile and gives me a place to relax.  Yes, I actually cut apart my coffee cup and pasted it to the page! I spend anywhere from 3 to 4 evenings a week at my local Barnes & Noble.  I love the people, the coffee, and the atmosphere.  This is where I write, relax, and socialize.  It’s like a second home to me and I always look forward to walking through the doors.

What are your favorite things?

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For previous Wreck This Journal posts, please see my sidebar and tag cloud.

c.b. 2011

Saturday Matinee in Muswell Hill

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Going to the movies has always been a guilty pleasure of mine.  I don’t know if its the giant screen, the smell of popcorn, or the make-you-go-deaf sound system, but I love going to the theater.  It doesn’t help that my local theater offers $5 deals for any show before noon, (even new releases!).  I’m not picky either . . . I’ll go to see anything from big budget blockbusters to indie films that had to beg to be distributed.

So naturally, I went to the movies or the cinema, (if I may practice Brit lingo),  during my stay in London this summer.  The experience itself ended up being more entertaining than the movie!  As mentioned in previous posts, I stayed in the small borough of Muswell Hill in North London. It has a very small town village feel, even though it’s part of much larger city, and is steeped in history.  This atmosphere is beautifully reflected in Muswell Hill’s Odeon Theater on Fortis Green Road.  It was built in 1936 during a major theater building boon, just as motion pictures were becoming more and more popular.

Upon approach, I wondered why a brick wall obscured the front part of the theater. I did some research and found out the church across the street was concerned about the “glowing sin” that emanated from neon signs and movie posters, so a partial wall and side street were built to make the theater more discreet.   My, how times have changed!

There are three screens in the Odeon, one large screen with 400 hundred seats and two smaller screens with 167 and 169 seats.  The large screen is decked out in major art deco architectural style, but I didn’t get to marvel in its beauty.  Unfortunately, the movie I wanted to see was playing in Theater 2 (a smaller screen on the lower level).

When I went into the lobby of the Odeon to buy my ticket, I was so excited to get my first overseas ticket stub.  Just like I save stones and seashells, I also hang onto my movie ticket stubs.  I have stubs dating all the way back to 1994 and I keep them all posted on a large bulletin board, (but that’s another post for another day).  Sadly, I was let down a little bit because they don’t give out actual tickets, but rather a flimsy receipt that shows payment.  Rats!  After a few years, that thin piece of paper will fade away to nothing, but I’m certain my memories of this place will outlive the ink.

Theater 2 turned out to be smaller than the theaters that end up in the back corner of the multiplexes back home,  (you know, the auditoriums that play older releases and smaller films), but it’s actually pretty cozy.  There are no middle seats because the hallway runs down the center of the theater.  Instead, two equal sections of seats run along each side of the screen.  Stadium seating does not exist, but there is a slight incline from the front of the theater to the back.  Too bad it’s not steep enough to help a short person such as myself.  The only way to avoid the poofy hair and tall heads in the front rows was to sit at the far left side in the back.

Once in my seat, I got a chance to assess the screen I’d be watching for the next two hours. It was at this point that I realized I may be a bit of a spoiled American when it comes to the movie-going experience.  My first thought after beholding the Odeon’s screen was, “My TV is bigger than that.”   Even still, I had to chuckle because that cute little screen is quite befitting of a theater with so much personality.

What lacked in screen-size was more than made up for with the sound system.   As soon as the lights dimmed, the sides of the screen slid out a few more inches (I’ve honestly never been so excited over a few inches in all my life) and a little click snapped in the speakers.  A commercial for a video game lit up the screen and the sound almost blew me right out of my seat.   The surround sound alone was worth the £9.50 I paid for my “ticket.”

The spectacle of X-Men: First Class made for a fun movie that was perfect for whittling away a Saturday afternoon. However, what made this typical summer blockbuster so enjoyable wasn’t the special effects or the gorgeous lead actors, but rather the Odeon itself.  Even though I was far away from home, this little theater made me feel like I was sitting on my couch watching a movie on a big screen TV with a killer sound system.  Never once has a 30 screen multiplex given me such a warm embrace.

c.b. 2011