Thursday, August 19, 2010

Irish Fair in Saint Paul!

Hello Everyone!

This past Sunday, I went to the Minnesota Irish Fair on Harriet Island in Saint Paul!
The venue was beautiful! All the tents on the lawn, the fried food smell in the air and the Celtic tunes keeping everyone in good cheer...It was fun!

My parents and I saw the Irish Step Dancers with their sparkly outfits and bouncy, larger-than-life hair. Mom and I kept pointing and saying, "I'd wear that one, Ooo, or that one!" Those girls are so talented and it looks like a lot of fun. Something not too many people know: I did Scottish Dancing when I was in Elementary School. I wore a white dress with a plaid sash. It's more like country line dancing. I didn't get very far, because I didn't want to compete. It was all for fun.

Next we saw all the FOOD! We eventually had some Fish'n'Chips....YUMMMM! Then, in Irish Tradition, we needed some Good Beer. I finally found one I like! I'm a casual drinker, at best, so this is kind of a big deal. I tried Finnegan's Irish Amber and enjoyed it! It has a sweet, smooth taste with a little zing. Those who are of age should try it if you like sweeter drinks and haven't found that beer yet. I'm still a cider fan, but this is a good beer for me.

We also enjoyed all the tents full of different items of Irish culture. My mom and I enjoyed the older sheet music! The titles, illustrations and topics were categorized by name. So all the songs about Dublin were on the same wall etc. And I found a whole section of songs with the name Kathleen* in them! *my middle name, in case you didn't know :) It's a popular name! haha We all enjoyed the LIVE items too...the Irish Dogs! They were so sweet. The Irish Wolf Hounds were huge! Some were taller than the little children...Insane! But I can understand why the Irish tamed them and brought them along on hunting trips. I would want them on MY side, for sure!

But my one weakness is the market place...All the silver knotted jewelry; the rings, earrings and other fine pieces...LOVE IT! The most interesting item we found for my dad would have been the Utili-kilt. It's a kilt that functions as a utility belt and a casual cargo kilt to wear almost anywhere. If they hadn't been so expensive, we might have been more tempted. My dad was more attracted to adding to his instrument collection by adding a bow drumb. He didn't find 'the one' but he has a good idea of what he's looking for. There was a music shop that had these beautiful harps on display. I melted! haha I eventually went home with a sterling silver right-hand ring and dangly earrings. The ring is crafted with the most unique celtic knot I've ever seen, and, believe me, I've been looking for one for years! And the earrings are  celtic classy :) Best market visit ever! Crowded, but eh, there are worse things...haha

The Grand Finale, for us at least, was hearing The High Kings perform! They are legit, from Ireland! The harmonies were heavenly, the guitars perfectly plucked and strummed to create a festive atmosphere of people singing, dancing and swingin' their drinks to the beat. Love that Celtic Sound!

Overall, my parents and I had a ball! Now whenever I head to Saint Paul, I'm going to Harriet Island.

all my love,


Comimg Up Next: The Renaissance Festival!

Thursday, August 12, 2010


Hello One and All!

This is the one you've been waiting for! JESSICA'S MOVIE REVIEW SPECIAL! 

Anyone who knows me is aware that I am the go-to person if you want to know about movies and the cast members. I know far too much about movies (new and old) and love sharing that knowledge. I like having active discussions about movies, so if you agree or disagree with me, let me know!

I go to the movies to be entertained and to share that experience with others. So that's what this blog is all about: starting conversations by sharing some of the films/programs I've seen so far this year. I'll give a number of stars out of 5 (scale seen below) and a snippet what I thought of it.


**= Okay

In Theaters:

Avatar *****
Best of Everything Film of the Year!
This is one of the films that has it all! I know that everyone loves it, and I have an idea why! The fictitious planet seems real; the people, the vegetation and exotic animals. I wish it were! Gorgeous film. It was an awesome adventure! The only thing I could have lived without was the obvious tree-hugger overtone...But it does show how our society's 'need' for energy sources can destroy everything if we're not careful.

Toy Story 3 *****
Best Family Film of the Year!
From start to finish, this film was a treat! Visually stunning, the story was engaging and the new characters were excellent! They rounded off the story really well. I'll admit, I teared up a few times near the end...I can't wait to see it again! I believe in the magic of animation :)  

How To Train Your Dragon ****
TS3's Only Competition for Best Family Film! So Best NEW Family Film!
 This was the most original family film I've seen in years! I loved the Viking culture, the characters and the dragons! Toothless reminds me of my baby kitty :D The flying was amazing in the theater! The creativity behind this film was impressive!

Alice in Wonderland***
Most Upbeat Tim Burton Movie of the Year!
I was expecting to see everything from the original film in computer animation, but nope! Burton changed up the story quite a bit, but it was fun! Since I've read the book, it was fun to hear Johnny Depp quoting the random poems. He was the strongest character but I also enjoyed the Cheshire Cat, the Red Queen and the Caterpillar. The only character I was turned off by was Anne Hathaway as the White Queen...I sensed she was making fun of her Princess Diaries role or something. I hope I'm wrong, but there was something insincere about her performance. Maybe it's just me :P Overall: Crazy, but that's what Alice in Wonderland is all about.

Iron Man 2***
"I love Robert Downy, Jr!" ~Lesley Decker, biggest fan
This was the perfect movie for Lesley and I to see together! I loved the technology, action and, of course, Robert Downy, Jr! *sigh* Les and I didn't like the new casting of Rhodey, but Don Cheadle tried. But that's what was wrong, he tried to be like the other guy instead of making the character his own. Lame! My favorite character other than Iron Man himself was Mickey Rourke's baddy Vanko! He was fantastic! Overall: Fun ride!

Inception *****
Best Action/Thriller/Mind Bender of the Year!
Chris Nolan is a genius! To be honest, I enjoyed The Prestige more, but the idea for this film must have been extracted from MY dreams! I have vivid dreams all the time so I enjoyed the general idea of not realizing you're dreaming unless something strange happens. The ending is very debatable, but I think that's the point! The only thing I would criticize about the movie is that sometimes the story dragged when I wanted it to speed up. Risky move when the audience is revved up by the desire to see how it ends. Great 'food for thought' type movie.

Twilight: Eclipse ****
Best Twilight Movie!
I wouldn't consider myself a Twihard, but I enjoyed the books and I make sure to see the Twilight films the first day/weekend they are released! Actually, my first experience with the story was with the original movie. I lost my breath! No lie! So for the next month or so the Twilight Saga became part of my bedtime ritual.
This movie sets the standard that the other films should have been at as far as the quality of photography and makeup. The vampire skin finally looks believable! The script is still very weak, but that's why the books are better. Everything happens over a longer time so it doesn't surprise you when Edward wants to marry Bella etc. Speaking of Bella, well, Kristen Stewart, I was relieved to see less spastic shaking from Miss Stewart. For this we need to thank the wonderful director and editors for choosing to do mostly close-ups of her so the shaking was out of the frame. Thank you!
Overall: Enjoyed it! Love the back stories of the other characters (boo on them for setting Rosalie in the wrong time period, grr!) and that the films are getting closer to the epic-ness of the books.

Clash of the Titans **
This is purely an action movie. Not much story (well, at least they started with a good story!), but the action scenes were the focus. Sometimes the fighting was a little overdone, and so were the few 3D elements. From seeing the trailers, this movie seemed to have it all: the cast, the special effects, and a great story! But it fell flat. Fun, but nothing too memorable.

At Home:

The Hurt Locker ****
I had been looking forward to seeing this movie for a long time and it didn't disappoint! Even before it won the Oscar for Best Picture, I wanted to see it. According to the trailers, it seemed like a witty war drama like those made in around WWII era. It turned out to be deeper conceptually because of the character-driven nature of the film. Some of the characters, like  Jeremy Renner's Sgt James, were just crazy but very human. The cameos were impressive too! David Morse, Guy Pierce and Ralph Fiennes! I think it won Best Picture because it takes you by surprise and keeps the tension pulled at just the right moments. Very human story about war and how it changes people and shows their true colors.

The Young Victoria***
Very sweet historical romance. The costumes and sets were fabulous! The story was told tenderly and succinctly. The writers incorporated many of the memorable aspects of the relationship between Victoria and Albert; the stockings, their taste in music, and their genuine care for one another. Rupert Friend was perfectly cast alongside Emily Blunt's vivacious Victoria! This film shows that sometimes romance did grow and blossom once upon a time... 

The Blind Side ****
By the time I saw this film, I was sick of hearing how great Sandra Bullock was...but since witnessing her performance, I totally agree! This was the best move she could have possibly made because she was playing a character, a real person, instead of the same modern women she usually plays. She truly transformed herself into someone else. That is the ultimate compliment for a actor. The overall movie didn't need to be nominated for an Oscar, but her performance did! I think they did it to recognize the impact this movie has on America. It's one of the highest grossing movies of this year because people were touched by it and told their friends to see it as well. Also, Tim McGraw was perfect! He didn't stick out like Taylor Swift did in Valentine's Day (I shiver thinking about her and that movie...not my favorite...) Overall: Heartwarming story and Sandra Bullock was AMAZING! 

Invictus *****
I have wanted to see this film for along time so I was pumped to see this film and it didn't let me down! I enjoy movies based on true stories. Definitely the most uplifitng Clint Eastwood film I've seen. I almost wish it had won for Best Picture, but, of course, the Academy can't pic something with such a positive, clear message. haha Morgan Freeman was fantastic and Matt Damon wasn't annoying! Bravo! Their accents were exceptionally believable. I would put this film in the same category as Chariots of Fire because of the way sports, politics and human nature are revealed through outstanding circumstances. I am also pretty confident that I understand Rugby! Witnessing the man power needed to play that game was impressive! Overall: Loved the Eastwood style of this engaging story.

Little Big Man ***
Dustin Hoffman became my hero after seeing his performance in this film! He plays the same character from the time he's a teenager until he's an extremely old man. Hoffman still holds the record for longest lifespan of a character, even more than Brand Pit did as Benjamin Button! The film follows the unpredictable life of a boy growing up in pre-Civil War era America. Raised by Native Americans, he understands their culture, and becomes a man of two worlds as he learns from the whites he encounters, including the idiotic Col. Custard as he fights the Sioux. There's some slow parts in the film as he 'discovers' himself, but it's an epic movie that I hope my friends are willing to give a chance.

On TV:

Phineas and Ferb*****
Honestly, I'm addicted to this show! Every time I watch an episode I genuinely enjoy every character, joke and musical number. It's the best show Disney has produced in many many years. I hope that they will keep this show on the air! I can't get enough of the brilliance that comes from every episode. 

Larkrise to Candleford ****
This is the best family show from PBS/BBC because it brings my family together every week with quality characters, universal life lessons and a genuine charm that can't be beat! The series revolves around the happenings in two early 19th century Oxford-shire villages; rural Larkrise and the more prosperous market town of Candleford. A young woman, Laura, from Larkrise works at the Candleford post office run by her mother's cousin, Dorcas. Laura witnesses these happenings as they apply to her life and to those around her. Simple plots, but great human characters. I can hardly wait for the new season to begin! They left it at a cliff-hanger as Laura is pursued by two very eligible young men :) swoon! Check it out when you can find it on your local PBS station!

Poirot: Murder on the Orient Express *****
From Masterpiece Mystery on PBS comes Agatha Christie's Poirot!!! The production value for this series has soared! The latest in the series, Murder on the Orient Express, was exceptionally mysterious and explored what justice really means. Dun dun DUUUN! Before the episode aired, they produced a special program where David Suchet, the actor who IS Poirot, traveled on the real Orient Express as Poirot would have! Definitely a possible honeymoon idea ;) haha There is something terribly romantic about trains...and exploring Europe in general. What an adventure it would be! Anyone who loves mysteries and hasn't checked out Agatha Christie's Poirot needs to NOW! 

John Adams: HBO Series *****
Ok American History buffs, you need to check out Paul Giamatti and Laura Liney as John and Abigail Adams! This HBO series is available on DVD and is a must see for anyone who wants a more accurate depiction of how our country was born. All your preconceptions of figures like Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin and George Washington will change! Some for the better (Washington was the sweetest man!) and some for the worse (Franklin was crazy!). Giamatti and Liney are perfectly cast and they carry the story, making these figures fully human. Watching it made me think: What would I do if I were in their place? Every step they took was a big risk, but looking back over 200 years, I'm thankful they did.


If you've gotten this far it means one of a few possibilities:
A: You looked at the star ratings and probably didn't read the blurbs.
B: You actually read the blurbs!
C: You skimmed through the blurbs and read the ones you were interested in.

However you got to this point, thank you for reading and I hope you found something new to discover for yourself. Please let me know if you agree, disagree or have questions about any of the films listed. If you think of something I should check out, let me know! I'm always on the look out for good entertainment.

Thanks again and Blessings to you!

all my love,