Let’s see a movie, Old Sport!


If there is one thing in life that I have a love/hate relationship with, it is film adaptations of great literature. I love it and I hate it. On one hand, I love the visualization of a great novel on the big screen.

But then there is the struggle to capture a literary voice in a new medium. Sometimes it goes well, but other times it goes horribly, horribly wrong. I rarely allow myself to be excited about a film adaptation.

But The Great Gatsby film adaptation released in 2013 is one that I looked forward to seeing. So when Danny Boy and I realized we could use our college id’s (makes me sound younger than I am…) to see a film at Hollywood Blvd. for $3 last night, we jumped up and headed out the door.

First of all, let me explain Hollywood Blvd to those outside the Chicagoland area. They serve dinner while you watch the film and include some clever-named menu items. It’s basically a haven for film enthusiasts since they also host special events and decorate every inch of wall space with movie images or memorabilia.

A place like this often gets two responses. You are either annoyed that a waiter is disrupting your movie watching with drink orders and food or you love it and embrace it wholeheartedly.

I personally love this place and yelp about it plenty. But I am getting distracted from the main point here, the movie. Warning, there will be spoilers coming up!

The goods:

1) The Soundtrack. This is as good as it gets in my opinion. The music is great blend of contemporary music and the sounds of the 20’s. You may also feel the urge to jump up and dance though most theaters frown upon this behavior unless you are at a midnight showing of Rocky Horror Picture Show.

2) Visualizations. The overall film is visually vibrant and fun to watch. They paid attention to the details of the book and really made them come alive. The Valley of Ashes with the old billboard eyes looking through the glasses was done perfectly. The party scenes were loud and bright as expected. However, the visuals did not take away from the character development which was pretty spot on. I feel like some movies try to focus on the visuals and forget to develop the characters.

The best moment is when Myrtle Wilson is hit by a car. F. Scott Fitzgerald was very descriptive in how her breast was ripped open and bleeding. The film made sure to include that along with visuals of the billboard that so amazingly symbolizes many of the themes.

3) Carey Mulligan. I knew walking into this that I was going to like Carey Mulligan in her portrayal of Daisy Buchanan. If you didn’t already know, I’m a bit of a Doctor Who fan, and Mulligan stars in one of the best episodes “Blink.” If you haven’t seen that episode or watched Doctor Who, then I am required by fandom law to advise that the episode does not tie into a huge plot and is worth watching as a stand alone episode.

In fact, go watch the episode now. It’s in Season 3 of Doctor Who and all on Netflix watch instantly. I’ll wait here a few moments so you can report back how much you love that episode. Seriously, go watch it!

Not so goods:

1) Excessive use of ‘Old Sport”. Every English major in the world would have been writing angrily on blogs had they not used “Old Sport” in Gatsby’s dialogue. Leonardo DiCaprio did a great job in his portrayal, but it felt like “Old Sport” was said a hell of a lot more than the book. I could be not recalling the book entirely well since it’s been 2-3 years since my last read, but the movie definitely said it a few too many times. Not the end all, be all, but just an added note to my review.

2) Some narration issues. Did anyone else notice that Spiderman was narrating this film? I kid, I kid. Tobey Maguire was great as Nick Carraway, but I did find some issues with the framework of his narration. While the novel is written from Nick’s perspective, and I really appreciate the films hard work to recreate that narration, it felt strange that it all started with him talking to a psychiatrist in the beginning.

As a reader, I do not recall the book mentioning Nick as unstable mentally in any way. It makes slight changes to his credibility though scholars would argue that the book already does that in other, more subtle ways.

3) There’s nothing else to complain about. I look forward to seeing a film adaptation of a novel so that I can ridicule the lack of dedication to stay “true” to the book. I barely have any complaints in this respect. I guess it’s not a bad thing, but give this blogger something to moan about! The characters were spot on between Tom’s subtle racist and sexist attitude to Jordan Baker’s cool and calm nature. Daisy maintained her very dependent personality and confusing comments that don’t really make any sense. She lacked any real backbone or ability to exist outside of a relationship to another person, just like Fitzgerald wrote it.

How to Guide for Spontaneous Vacations


Did you ever want to be spontaneous and take a quick mini vacation? Here’s a easy to understand how to guide for just that!

On Sunday June 12th, Danny Boy and I watched Travel Channel’s Top 10 Roller Coasters. Exactly six days later, we packed up my new car aka “Sparky” and made the drive to Cedar Point in Sandusky, Ohio.

Since this was a first in my life, I decided it was a great blogging opportunity. Spontaneous mini-vacations can be great fun and here’s how to have one of your own.

Inspiration

The first thing you need is inspiration and motivation. Find something you can be excited about. Seek out something not to far away that can really be a good time.

Dan and I realized we had never gone to an amusement park together. Living in Chicago, we’re about an hour and a half from the Six Flags Great America in Gurnee. The problem is we’ve both been a million times throughout our lives.

Since this was a first roller coaster filled day in our relationship, we needed something different. Sandusky, Ohio is about 4.5 hours away from Chicago. To cut costs, we decided to make the drive early in the morning so that we go directly to the park and crash for a night at a hotel before driving back.

Research

You may feel tempted to over research this type of thing. Trust me, I found other places in driving distance and was tempted to push back our mini-trip to Memorial Day weekend since I have an extra day off.

It starts to feel less spontaneous so tread carefully. Make sure you have enough time to make the drive and enjoy your destination without spending lots of money. Two days of driving somewhere means a total of four days in a car to make it back. Unless you have things to visit along the way or a lot of vacation time, keep the actual driving to a minimum.

For something outdoors, check the weather. I checked every day in the six days between the idea and the actual mini-road trip.

But here’s a thing to remember, weather forecasts are not perfect. All week, I was told it would rain that Saturday in Sandusky, Ohio. Did we cancel? No. Did it rain? Not a drop of rain all day!

Planning

So you found your motivation, your place of interest, and you know it’s doable. Avoid over-planning everything. Here are a few things to ask yourself:

What do I need to bring?

What time do we have to leave?

Can I buy tickets online for my destination? Can I find a coupon code or a discount?

I was able to find a discount and get our Cedar Point tickets for only $37 each. We planned to leave at 4:30am. Yes, we actually left at 5:15am, but it didn’t ruin our good time.

Anything else of importance? How about making a fun playlist for the drive–one that could be put on shuffle while you laughed your way across state lines.

My road trip playlist included a lot of crazy choices: Freebird, Send Me On My Way, Dream On, Bohemian Rhapsody, Bitter Sweet Symphony, Walking On Sunshine, 99 Luftballons (yes, the German version), the theme song to Fresh Prince of Bel Air, ABC by the Jackson 5, Blue Monday, Baby Got Back, Chelsea Dagger, Low Rider, and many more.

Packing

Oh, the subject of packing. I am a guilty party to over-packing. I did it when we went to Cancun, and I’m sure it’s not the last time.

For Cedar Point, I had a game plan. The weather could have been really nice or a little chilly and rainy. So one outfit was for chilly/rainy weather and one was for hot/sweaty weather. I brought a change of PJ’s and that’s it. Remember it’s not worth stressing about. And make up? Leave it at home!

Execution

So you planned, packed, and are ready to go. A few small tips. Make sure your partner in crime has the same ideals about this mini-trip as you do. If you don’t have the same motivation, you will bicker a lot.

Dan and I had only one goal. To ride as many roller coasters that the roller coaster gods would allow us. We shared the drive there and stopped when we felt like it. No fighting, no bickering, and no stressing!

PUBLIC SAFETY ANNOUNCEMENT

You want to road trip? Put away your cellphone. If you are sitting in the passenger seat, put away your cell phone and give your driver some conversation (unless you are searching for something related to your mini-vacation).

From Chicago to Ohio, we saw two car accidents (one was really bad). Just keep in mind, you are going incredibly fast, and even if you are bored, stay safe and focus your mind on the road.

Stay Dedicated

Next is to just have fun and enjoy your day. If you are at an amusement park, don’t get bored waiting in lines. Be excited and don’t let your old age make you feel too tired to really get as much fun as possible out of your day.

Don’t sweat the little things either. The new roller coaster that opened at Cedar Point was called the GateKeeper. We went straight there and turned away from the line when we heard there was a four hour wait.

So we got in line for another coaster and right when we got close, it shut down for maintenance. After 10 minutes, it reopened and it was smooth sailing the rest of the day.

I also managed to drop my phone and crack the screen while waiting in a line. But you don’t let those things ruin the rest of your fun. Emotions are all about perspective, so focus on the positives and walk away with good feelings.

We went back to the GateKeeper later and sat in the first row. It was the highlight of the day!

Recap

Here are a few photos from our mini-vacation. They are all from my cellphone since we didn’t even pack a real camera.

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