Friday, April 24, 2015

Movie Review: The Age of Adaline

If you HAD to stop aging, though, I do think 29 is a pretty great place to pause.

What would you do if you knew you'd stay 29 years old forever?

I hadn't done my homework before seeing The Age of Adaline; I knew who the leads were and that it was about a woman who didn't age, but that's it. So I was surprised to learn afterward that it isn't based on any best-selling novel, but rather is an original story from J. Mills Goodloe and Salvador Paskowitz. I was surprised by this because let's be honest—there aren't a ton of romantic dramas out there these days that aren't adaptations. Actually, there aren't many movies of any genre out there these days that aren't adaptations.

I'd made another pre-screening assumption: that the movie was going to be either too cheesy or too weepy for my tastes. Wrong again.

Maybe it's because I've always been a sucker for any story dealing with the manipulation of time, but I found myself willing to go all in with The Age of Adaline from its very first moments. A voiceover explains the fairly ridiculous (and intentionally comedic in parts) setup of exactly how Adaline Bowman (Blake Lively) stopped aging at 29 years old when she crashed her car on the way to pick up her five-year-old daughter after her husband's untimely death. The year was 1937.

Director Lee Toland Krieger (Celeste and Jesse Forever) made a smart decision in putting Adaline's secret out there from the start—and by giving the audience a silly "wink and nudge" moment that allowed them to just laugh out loud at the crazy premise and then move on to caring about Adaline's dilemma. The dilemma being that since she has remained 29 for decades, she can't get close to anyone, nor can she stay in one place for more than ten years before somebody starts getting suspicious.

It's a lonely, mournful existence, which Lively does an excellent job of conveying throughout the film, but there was one scene in particular that stuck with me. Adaline and her now-eightysomething daughter, Flemming (Ellen Burstyn) were at lunch, and Flemming was babbling on about friends of hers who had recently fallen or had hip surgery or had moved to a retirement community. The mix of emotions that crossed Adaline's face within a matter of seconds—concern, disbelief, irritation, denial, sadness, and then back to authentic concern—was amazing and heartbreaking. A different scene where Adaline has to say goodbye to yet another faithful canine companion put me over the edge.

If you look real quick you might think this is Shia LaBeouf, like I did.And so it becomes clear that unless you're a vampire with other vampire friends to hang with (or a virginal beauty decides she just must turn undead and join you), living forever ain't all it's cracked up to be. Adaline can't even pull an Arwen—if she were to find The One, she couldn't simply choose to give up her immortality for her own personal version of Aragorn.

So when Ellis Jones (Michael Huisman) aggressively pursues Adaline after they meet at a New Year's Eve party, it's understandable (to us) why she plays coy. However, she does allow herself a little fun, which leads to a weekend trip with Ellis to his parent's house to celebrate their fortieth anniversary. Things get mighty mighty weird right quick, because Ellis's dad William (Harrison Ford) knew Adaline back in the day. 

This is where I tell you that if you're on the fence about seeing this movie, you must see it solely for the flashbacks of Harrison Ford's character. Because I'm pretty darn sure that my entire theater had their minds blown by not only the physical resemblance of the actor playing young William (Anthony Ingruber) to a young Harrison Ford, but also by how much the two men sound exactly like each other. It is freaky, I tell you. (I later learned that Ingruber got the part specifically because of his Han Solo impressions on YouTube. For real.)

Where's Chewie?
As for Ford himself, he's great, too. He and Kathy Baker (as William's wife) are not in the film long, but they serve to drive home the consequences and pain of missed opportunities and "what if?" scenarios that we'd previously only considered from Adaline's view.

I had but three small issues with The Age of Adaline: 1) I'm so used to hearing Huisman in other softer accents (on Game of Thrones, Nashville and Orphan Black) that I was not feeling the grating "American voice" he settled on for this role, 2) while there were hints at something deeper (bursting into another language, dominating at Trivial Pursuit), I was left wanting to know more about Adaline's past, and 3) the ending was totally cheeserrific. Not in a film-ruining way, but in a "did they really have to be that cheesy?" way.

Regardless, I would still recommend The Age of Adaline because it pleasantly surprised me and passed my test of getting me to think about things that will never happen to me. (What? You thought I was still 29? Why thank you, and you go on and have yourself a fantastic weekend.)

Tuesday, April 07, 2015

Great Customer Service: Fitbit

The update on yesterday's Fitbit Fail situation is that there's good news and bad news. The bad news is that my Fitbit One is indeed dead. The good news is that since I only bought it in mid-January, it's under warranty and they're going to send me a new one.

The even better news is that I didn't have to pull teeth to make this happen. I had a very short online chat with a customer service rep who had me try to sync my device after I explained to her what happened. The sync wouldn't work.

Yeah, and it's a BIG problem, people.

And... that was it. I got an email asking for my shipping address and a screenshot of my order details from Amazon. A new Fitbit One should be on its way to me shortly, and it doesn't even seem like they're going to make me go through the annoying task of sending the defunct one bad, which I LOVE.

I asked the rep if there was a known issue with One's flaking out after only a few months, but she said there wasn't, so I'm going to cross my fingers that the new one isn't a dud.

In the meantime, I'm still feeling uneasy without anything tracking my steps. And I don't like touching my waist and not being able to feel my little fitness friend right there by my side. This must be how Tom Hanks felt when he lost Wilson.

Yep. It's exactly like that.

- e

Monday, April 06, 2015

Feeling Naked When You're Not

At around 11:30 this afternoon, I went to the kitchen to get a snack and absentmindedly hit my Fitbit button to see how many steps I'd logged so far.

"0," it glared back at me.

I frantically hit the button again and cycled through all of the categories. Everything was showing a big fat zero: steps, calories, stairs, the works.

What was happening?!?

Apparently I'm not the only one who feels this way.I forgot all about eating and ran to plug the little guy into my laptop. I searched the Help section of Fitbit's site to see what to do. A reboot was suggested. I tried it and then jogged around the floor again. Still nothing but zeroes.

Another reboot. And another. It's just not working.

Fitbit's customer service wasn't online, so I sent them an email and am impatiently waiting to hear back. In the meantime, I've left my Fitbit plugged into my laptop so that it can fully charge, and I'm hoping for a miracle.

I've only had this thing for a few months, so it's amazing that I am COMPLETELY FREAKING OUT without it on. I feel naked without it, and every step I take that it doesn't track seems like a travesty.

Anyone who has a smart phone has felt this same way when they've either forgotten to bring it with them or otherwise misplaced it for a while. We're like trained animals with this stuff, I swear. But with the Fitbit it's even stranger because I feel like any exercise I get while it's off somehow doesn't matter or doesn't count, when clearly it does. A lot of the things I do at the gym are way better workouts than walking is, and the Fitbit I have (the One) doesn't even track that stuff anyway. But for whatever reason, not having it on and not having it working are causing me to meltdown nonetheless.

Pray for a quick resolution, for my sanity's sake!

- e

Friday, April 03, 2015

Tax Time

It's go time.
So yesterday I did something I've never done in all of my years of either preparing my own taxes or getting the files and forms together for our accountant: I pulled everything together in one day.

Granted, I had been keeping all tax-related documents in a folder as things were mailed to us over the last few months, but that's not really what I'm talking about. I'm talking about all of those other random and not-so-random last-minute things you realize you need when tax time rolls around. That includes completing the entire year's profit and loss statement for my writing business. Each year I swear that I'm going to keep my LLC's income and expense spreadsheet current. I vow to fill in what I get paid and what writing-related costs I incur on a rolling basis each month so that I don't have to scramble in April. And then I promptly forget about it (or am just too lazy to do it) as soon as the taxes are filed.

Since my 2014 situation was not that complicated, I was able to complete my spreadsheet in a matter of a few hours. It's always fun to go back through the year and be reminded of which movies I took cabs to versus drove to (cash expenses versus credit-card parking expenses!)—what's even more fun is when a movie was so blah that I cannot even remember what it was about. D'oh.

Anyway, I got everything done and made it over to our accountant's office 30 minutes before they closed for the day. (I used to LOVE doing our taxes on my own, but once I created an LLC I got too nervous I would screw something up.)

There was another guy dropping his packet of forms off at the same time. We went down the stairs afterward together and he said, "It feels good to have the ball be in their court now, doesn't it?"

Yes, yes it does.

- e

Thursday, April 02, 2015

Something I'll Never Buy

A few weeks ago I was enjoying a walk down by Lake Michigan when a strange contraption whizzed by me: the Elliptigo. I immediately emailed myself to remember to look into it later, and today's the day I finally did.

This is not the dude I saw.

Technically it's written as the ElliptiGO... so there's that. My favorite machine at the gym is the Elliptical, so I admit I was curious about this mobile version. For poor souls like me who just can't handle high-impact exercise like jogging, I've found the Elliptical to be the best way to work up a sweat and burn calories without feeling like you've angered the Knee Gods the next morning.

But the cheapest ElliptiGO model costs $1,800.


So I will not be buying one. In convincing myself not to be sad about this, here's what I came up with:
  • I wouldn't be able to use it at all between December and March thanks to bad weather in Chicago. (Well, technically it looks like you CAN use it inside with some sort of stationary adjustment that's of course like $500 more, but you get my point.)
  • I'd need to store it somewhere and we don't have a garage or any place it would be protected from the elements.
  • I already pay for membership at a gym across the street that has Elliptical machines.
  • If I really wanted to be able to both exercise and go greater distances faster than I could by just walking, I could a) ride my husband's bike or b) buy a bike of my own for a lot less than $1,800.
  • It looks kinda silly and calls attention to whomever's riding it, and I like to keep a low profile—especially when I'm exercising. I won't even do any group classes because I 'm so horrified by the thought of someone watching me work out, so riding some beast machine down the jogging path that's the equivalent of blaring "LOOK AT ME" over loudspeakers is kind of my worst nightmare.
  • Again, it's $1,800 (without tax or shipping, I assume).

There. Now I feel better about never being an ElliptiGO owner. I do wish I had a normal Elliptical in my place so that I wouldn't even have to go to the gym. God forbid I have to walk two blocks to exercise!

- e

Wednesday, April 01, 2015

No Fooling

Ah, April Fools' Day. A day that I don't necessarily mind, as long as the pranks are happening to someone else. For example, if anyone pulled this Jimmy Kimmel stunt on me while I had my first sip of tea in the morning, things would end badly. (Seriously, all I can imagine is scalding liquids being spilled and thrown on innocent people. Not cool.)

What I do enjoy, however, is seeing how creative or otherwise into it some companies get. Take Uber, for example. I received this email at 7:30 a.m., which I actually bought for a few seconds until I read the hilarious quote at the end. I just assumed SkyMall was takin' it to the streets, so to speak.

Three-person Slanket -- sign me up!

Best quote ever?

I actually clicked on the video and was even more impressed. The Shoulder Selfie Camera made me laugh out loud. (And you know some people out there actually want one.)

That's some serious effort.

But wait, there's more! They actually created a SkyMall-like catalog. Would you be interested in the blanket of human hair? Or perhaps the Signed and Framed Photo from an Out-of-Work Actor?

If you are in need of a laugh, flip through the whole thing. The best part is there's no mention anywhere that it's a gag.

My longtime freelance employer, Redbox, pulled a great one today as well with Petbox. At first I thought it was just a bunch of already-existing animal-centric films, but then I looked a bit closer...

Hollywood needs to make Gone Squirrel happen.

Once you scroll down past "the fold," as we Web people say, you'll see that they fess up--and provide a little April Fools' Day bonus. My favorites are Gone Squirrel, Fox Catcher and Fifty Shades of Greyhound.

Actually, all of these need to happen.

It's only a few hours into the day, so I'm sure there will be some other great pranks to come. As long as I'm not the unwitting target, it's all good.

- e