Monthly Archives: January 2013

30 Jan

The Steps to Sundance

Posted by on January 30, 2013 at 8:20 pm

The Sundance Film Festival just ended. As usual, Jason and I eagerly added our bodies to the masses of movie aficionados during its 10 day stint. We’ve been attending this world-famous at hand event for almost a decade and we always look forward to its star-strewn madness.

Our enjoyment of Sundance has improved in recent years by going the locals route. Yes, if you’re a Utah resident you can get tickets to the Sundance Film Festival before the general public. How does a native do this one might ask? First, you have to remember to register in October. If you forget to sign up then you’ve lost your chance at passes. Second, you have to wait for your appointed timeslot to purchase your ticket package, not individual tickets mind you but just your ticket package of choice. The chance to buy a package works like a lottery. So far fate has smiled on us and we haven’t been denied this acquisition but there’s a first time for everything. Next, about a month after buying your package, your timeslot for picking individual tickets is revealed. This window is based on another system of chance, you might get lucky and be in the first group to get tickets or less fortunate and be in the last. Either way you can’t complain because, no matter what, you’re choosing your seats before the crowds get a chance. When your ticket opening hits you’d better be fast. Identifying what you want beforehand and having a strategy is paramount or you will be left in others’ box office dust. You never know what will be sold out so you have to be flexible and have lots of backup plans. Jason and I usually draw up a complex ticketing diagram beforehand to aid us in this part. Finally, a couple weeks later, you get to pick up your tickets but only during a designated timeslot. (You getting a feel for how many timeslots are involved in this process?) This must be done at the Salt Lake City Sundance box office with a Utah driver’s license in hand and there is often a wait. This year Jason ended up standing in line for about an hour. But at least at the end of this queue you are, at last, the gratified holder of passes to some exclusive events. Hallelujah! Yes, the locals method is a complicated procedure but it makes getting into popular screenings possible for us nobodies and the nobodies we know. Jason and I are nice; we buy an extra-large ticket package every year so that we have some passes to spread to our friends. Hint to friends: if you want us to continue purchasing tickets for you in the future be grateful that we let you benefit from our toil.

We attended a couple screenings with Drew and Simone. It's always fun to have some company.

We attended a couple screenings with Drew and Simone. It’s always fun to have some company.

All that ticket commotion happens before Sundance starts. What happens after it begins is also crazy but much more enjoyable. Here’s what transpired for us after the festival commenced this year:

The Crash Reel was the first show we attended and what a way to kick things off. It was a documentary that followed the fall and rise of snowboarder Kevin Pearce. You may recall that Kevin Pearce was an Olympic favorite in the half-pipe for the Vancouver Olympics. He had beaten Shaun White on multiple occasions so it was anyone’s guess who would come away with the gold. Unfortunately, about 2 months before the Olympics Kevin Pearce wrecked while training in Park City and suffered a traumatic brain injury. With a damaged noggin, Kevin’s continuance of competitive snowboarding was unacceptably risky to the loved ones of this talented rider but he found the overwhelming danger harder to acknowledge. Being a snowboarder myself, with injuries that have made riding the slopes impossible at times, I think I can understand to a small degree the devastation that Kevin felt when he realized he’d have to give up boarding.

A whole lot of famous boarders showed up to support The Crash Reel.

A whole lot of famous boarders showed up to support The Crash Reel. It was marvelous!

This was a fantastic film that had elements of a cool boarding movie along with touching inspirational moments. It’s supposed to premier on HBO during the summer and I would highly recommend checking it out. As an extra treat we got to meet not only Kevin but Scotty Lago, the American that received the half-pipe bronze medal in Vancouver, and a whole bunch of other amazing snowboarders like Mason Aguirre, Luke Mitrani, Jack Mitrani, and Danny Davis. Lucy Walker, the academy award nominated director, was also present. Wow!

The Summit was a documentary that shed some light on the tragic events that occurred near the peak of K2 in August of 2008. K2, the second highest peak in the world at 28,251 feet, is far more dangerous to climb than Everest. Did you know that 1 in 4 mountaineers that make it to the top of K2 die during their descent? That dwarfs Everest’s 5% and is hard to wrap your mind around. Any hike up K2 is apparently a gamble with death but during this particular disaster, the worst in K2 history, 11 of the 24 climbers that attempted to reach the summit never made it back to camp. As you can imagine, this documentary was intense and disconcerting. It was hard to understand why these climbers would risk so much for an unnecessary achievement. One of the saviors of the catastrophe, a Sherpa named Pemba Gyalje, surprisingly showed up for the Q&A after the show and got a standing ovation. It was a pleasure to be in the presence of this heroic and humble man.

Pemba Gyalje's unexpected appearance at The Summit's Q&A had everyone on their feet.

Pemba Gyalje’s unexpected appearance at The Summit‘s Q&A had everyone on their feet.

These first two documentaries really made an impact on me. More than a week later my dreams were still invaded by troubling rides on powder or unsettling climbs up insurmountable mountains. Even now I find myself daydreaming about the images, characters, and music from these films that moved me. I believe movies like these, great movies, linger with you and continue to change your perception of the world long after the credits have rolled.

Computer Chess was an unusual flick that imagined the inner goings of the world of computer programmers in the early 80s, specifically programmers that were trying to teach machines how to play chess. It was quite nerdy and, like many indie films, a bit slow but I enjoyed its randomness and appreciated its geeky humor.

Andrew Bujalski, the director of Computer Chess, was enthusiastic about his creative homage to nerdery.

Andrew Bujalski, the director of Computer Chess, was enthusiastic about his creative homage to nerdery.

We Steal Secrets: the Story of WikiLeaks was an insightful and interesting documentary. It portrayed Julian Assange pretty fairly but not favorably. The WikiLeaks organization, on the other hand, it presented as more idealistic and less hypocritical.

The last picture we saw was The Inevitable Defeat of Mister and Pete. This film followed the lives of two project kids as they tried to survive a summer without their junkie parents. While it was told from the perspective of the kids, it was not meant for a young audience; these children faced obstacles that no kid should have to. Yet, it was somehow endearing and sweet while maintaining its harsh reality.

It was another great year for us at the festival. We saw a variety of flicks that made us giggle, gasp, and grieve. Attending Sundance may take work but it’s nothing compared to what goes into putting this festival on. We met the program director for Sundance at one of our screenings and learned that 12,000 film submissions, about 1,500 of which are documentaries, get sent in every year. They all have to be watched in order for the best hundred or so to be selected. Holy movie overload Batman! I’m not sure how you could view that many every year and come away still enjoying films; I’d never want to see another movie in my life. Good thing I get to watch 11,995 less than those programmers. We’ve found that catching 5 Sundance films each year is just about right for us. It’s enough to get the flavor of the festival without getting burnout. See you in 2014 Sundance!

22 Jan

Operation Gandalf

Posted by on January 22, 2013 at 11:27 pm

We had such a great time last January chilling with our friends on the slopes of Powder Mountain that we decided to do a repeat this year. While we again stayed at our timeshare just 5 or 6 miles from the resort, which was lusciously convenient, other details of our outing changed. First, we had to increase the size of our suite to the largest available because our group had become heftier. Second, this time “Powder Mountain” was an accurate description of our endpoint. Yes, our trip was bigger and powderier than ever.

One could go any direction and find first tracks.

One could go any direction and find first tracks.

We planned this excursion a few months ago and crossed our fingers that the snow levels by mid-January would be adequate to justify its undertaking. It turns out we needn’t have worried on that account. An arctic storm amusingly referred to as “Gandalf” came into town just before our special weekend and dumped 24 inches of glistening heaven on Powder Mountain. Unfortunately, it also dumped a whole lot of that stuff on the roads we had to take to get there so Jason and I had a heck of a time reaching our destination. We ended up having to put on our snow chains just to travel the freeway, hence, there’s no way we would have survived the canyon climbs without those noisy nets. It took us twice as long as it should have to make it to our condo but that’s where my complaining about the precipitation ends.

Jacob cruised with me for a significant portion of the day until he was all tuckered out.

Jacob cruised with me for a significant portion of the day until he was all tuckered out.

The deliciousness of the resort’s accumulation was worth our prolonged journey and then some. First tracks awaited us at every turn on those empty slopes. I hit that powder with such sweet abandon that I didn’t even notice I was traversing black diamonds. I thought nothing of the terrain’s steepness because I only had eyes for the sweet stuff. About here, in the midst of my blabber concerning the treacherous topography I obliviously kept to all day, one would expect the embarrassing details of some accidental meeting I had with the business end of the mountain. Alas, I do have a few humiliating stories to tell and they are even more disgraceful than you’d think. You see it wasn’t the sheer black regions, which were probably above my skill set, that caused me pain but the lift’s exit ramp. Yes, I had a shameful share of rookie mishaps, not all of which were entirely my fault mind you, and the worst of those left me with an exceptionally nasty bruise on my upper leg/rump region. How a little slip led to a particularly painful fall and the worst non-surgically-induced bruise I’ve ever had in my life who knows. All I know is that I don’t usually bruise much but currently my hiney is whiney.

The members of our group varied in ability and rides but we all had a terrific time.

The members of our group varied in ability and rides but we all had a terrific time.

Powder fields are supposed to be tricky but I was too busy salivating to remember to be tricked.

Powder fields are supposed to be tricky but I was too busy salivating to remember to be tricked.

Good thing I don’t mind some discomfort, especially where the fluffy stuff is concerned, because my lack of lift coordination wasn’t the only problem aching up my life. My bad ankle, which had recently begun physical therapy, was in an unusually grumpy mood while boarding. I will cover my foot’s moody nature thoroughly in another post but for now let’s just say that it gave me much grief and I gave it much right back. However, in the end, it wasn’t lefty that drove me into the lodge 45 minutes before the resort closed but Gandalf and his sneaky wizard ways. That arctic storm didn’t just bring snow it brought frigid temperatures that only got up to about 10 degrees in the middle of the day. When the sun started going down we all began losing feeling in our extremities and things got miserable real fast. But regardless of my stinging hands, throbbing hip, and achy ankle I loved playing in the powder. It was a fantastic day of boarding! Snow, you hurt me over and over but I just don’t know how to quit you.

The sauna brought everyone together, some of us more than others.

The sauna brought everyone together, some of us more than others.

Some of our group thought a roll in the snow would provide a nice intermission to the sauna. I was not among them.

Some of our group thought a roll in the snow would provide a nice intermission to the sauna. I was not among them.

After our cores had been chilled to a frosty slush, jumping in the condo’s hot tub or sauna sounded like a mighty good plan. I opted for the sauna because the outdoor hot tub was little too out for me. There’s nothing quite like 134 degrees of sauna swelter to melt your inner glacier. Ahhh.

We were exhausted from riding but that didn't stop us from gaming.

We were exhausted from riding but that didn’t stop us from gaming.

Once we could tell we had ten toes again, we spent the greater part of the evening playing games. We competed in Sticheln, Saboteur, Seven Wonders, and Pandemic with only a little sleep to interrupt our rounds. Thanks to the open loft where our bed was located, and where the echoes of the entire world seemed to mingle, Jason and I didn’t have much sleep interrupt the gaming whether we were playing or not.

My bruise is roughly the same size as my hand and for days it was a dense

My bruise is roughly the same size as my hand and for days it was a dense patch of deep purple splotches. This picture doesn’t really do its grotesqueness justice.

Yes, Jason and I got little rest over that weekend but we did get sweet dreams of soft powder. We didn’t get privacy but we did get entertainment. Our weekend getaway was chaotic and rowdy but it was a trip worth repeating. I just hope Gandalf joins us again next time. He was the best guest we’ve ever had; what he left all over the ground was a whole lot better than half eaten cookies.

15 Jan

Trekking Through Penalties and Loses

Posted by on January 15, 2013 at 8:23 pm

We opened the new year with an eventful weekend stuffed with the variety of life. From nerdy contests, to gorgeous vistas, to embarrassing punishments: there was something for everyone and a whole lot for us.

I think Ryan must have harnessed the mental prowess of the Vulcans with his Spock costume. I’m sure that’s the only reason he beat me this time.

I made Klingon Rokeg blood pie for our space quest expecting it to look cool but taste gross. Surprisingly, it was pretty good.

Ever since our Star Trek Scene It? competition almost a year ago, which I won, my brother-in-law Ryan has been longing to prove that the outcome of that game had more to do with a quantum singularity than his competence. His long-awaited chance for redemption came during the New Year’s Day weekend in the form of another round of the Ryan vs. Rachel Trek challenge. It was a close match but in the end, when I was only one question away from victory, Ryan initiated his transwarp drive and my overworked nacelles couldn’t keep up. I guess, unlike Scotty, I just couldn’t hold her together any longer.

Wesley looked more like Elvis than Spock with Ryan’s wig on but even space needs a king.

It was a perfectly perfect day for a little snowshoeing adventure.

The clumps of snow in the trees made the sky almost as pale as the ground. I felt like I was swimming through a whitewashed world.

The following day the trekking continued. We hiked up American Fork Canyon on the Mud Springs Trail with Jason’s parents using snowshoes. This excursion was Sue and Keith’s idea and an excellent idea it was indeed. While the temperatures up in the mountains weren’t exceptionally warm, our constant exertion kept us plenty toasty. I think those canyon climbs may have been longer and steeper than what my in-laws were envisioning but they still made it through two miles of powdery calm, with minimal whining, before darkness halted our goings.

The winter haze in the valleys didn’t have the power to invade our outing.

We decided to shoe on the wild side by detouring through a dell of water-infested snow.

The fingers of the river broke this portion of our path into lovely flowing pieces.

Our New Year’s Eve, as usual, was all about the parties. We visited the Rowleys first and played some rounds of Killer Oompi, which is Uno plus penalties, with that crew. I lost once and my punishment was proposing marriage to our friend Penny. Asking a girl for her hand turned out to be harder than I thought; I got a little tongue-tied. Why do females have to be so difficult? Next we were off to the Hughes family shindig. After some sundae action we convinced this group of friends to play Killer Oompi as well. We’ve been trying to persuade them that Killer Oompi actually is a fun pursuit for years but the idea of humiliating penalties has always scared them off so Jason was proud and shocked that his manipulation worked this time. The timing of my pleased hubby’s convincing could have been a bit better for me though. I think playing Killer Oompi that much in one night left me more and more unfocused as the evening progressed. I made a number of dumb mistakes I never would have normally and lost three rounds. Consequently, I had to carry Fran around like a pony and act like a worm-ridden dog. My back was not pleased with its pony duties but at least I didn’t lose the snow angel round. Cam, who ironically was the one pushing for this particular penalty, had to make a snow angel in the fresh powder as punishment for his defeat. Angel duties wouldn’t have been too bad if it hadn’t been nearly 2 AM and less than 10 degrees outside…and if Jim hadn’t been there to take advantage of his friend’s defenseless position on the ground with some ill-placed snowballs. What an angel!

I wish I could blame the way I look in this picture on a beverage but I’m pretty sure apple juice isn’t responsible.

Fran didn’t spare my back; she made the most of her hard-earned ride.

It was a fun weekend. Sure I had to suffer the shame of battling with a blunt bat’leth and the indignity of crawling on all fours but at least I find ridiculousness, even when it’s my own, amusing. And who wouldn’t appreciate naked aspens and frosty pines embellished by the shimmering heaps of fluffy powder clinging to their branches? Laughter and beauty are an excellent way to end one year and begin yet another. Hello 2013! May you be ever as much of an adventure as your predecessors.

9 Jan

‘Tis the Season

Posted by on January 9, 2013 at 8:17 pm

This Christmas followed a very similar pattern to those that have come before. Jason and I spent a whole lot of time with family and reserved a bit to ourselves. We lavished each other with more gifts than we probably should have with no regrets. We ate a few too many cookies but not enough to grow our rumps. We found delight in the wonders of the season and joy in our togetherness. It was Christmas as it should be though I wouldn’t have complained if it had been a little less busy.

Peeking is not permitted in the Sabin household but shaking is encouraged.

Jason surprised me with holiday flowers a few days before Christmas. They were a cheery addition to our seasonal decor. And yes, I do have the best husband in the universe.

My family’s Christmas Eve tradition when I was growing up was ordering pizza and driving around to look at Christmas lights. I loved this when I was a kid. This year my sister was feeling nostalgic for those Christmas Eves gone by so at the last minute my kinfolk, or those that live in these parts, got together for a few hours on that magical night. We gorged ourselves on pizza and then settled in contentedly for the evening’s entertainment: holiday music performed by my sister’s family and the Christmas story read by my dad.

The Marshalls treated us to a number of Christmas tunes.

Isabelle was definitely old enough this year to understand the present concept.

Christmas morning Jason and I refused to see anyone but ourselves. We made healthy black bean breakfast burritos and opened gifts to each other. After that leisurely start we jumped on the family fast-track. We opened gifts with the Sabins and then hit present time at my family’s. At both places, when the fierce gift giving had subsided, heaps of disemboweled wrapping paper reached as far as the eye could see. With the constant exposure to such graphic displays, it’s no wonder that I have become desensitized to the suffering of gift wrap.

Christmas, like everything else, is always goofy with the Sabins.

Wes loves Legos and construction vehicles so the dump truck Lego set we gave him was a hit.

Our Christmas this year was a bit more hectic than we would have liked but not as hectic as some previous Christmases have been. Nonstop family exposure is part of the seasonal package and we have a lot of family to expose so I doubt Jason and I will ever get as mellow of a Christmas as we desire. While a relaxing Christmas Day remains one of our unlived fantasies, Jason and I are grateful for the nearness of so many relatives. Without them our Christmas would be peaceful but our lives would be lacking. Here’s to another season celebrated like crazy!

6 Jan

Hands to Heads

Posted by on January 6, 2013 at 12:54 pm

Last February I decided to undertake a task that Jason believed was doomed to failure: knitting beanies for my mom, all of my sisters, and my sisters-in-law for Christmas. Unlike my doubting husband, I was convinced that this plan was accomplishable so shortly after the idea popped into my head I acquired supplies and commenced with the project.

Over the last 10 months I have leisurely worked my way through these hats as Jason and I have worked our way through movies. I finished the last cap around Thanksgiving in plenty of time to wrap them all up for Christmas. Jason should have known better than to question my ability to complete any job I set my mind to; I am, after all, one of the most stubborn people on the planet.

Although a long-term project, knitting beanies was a relaxing one.

Although not all of my family was present at my parents’ house on Christmas day, I gave my hatwears to those that were in attendance anyway. My headgoods appeared to be a hit. Drew seemed a little sad that he didn’t get one though. Sorry Drew, brothers just don’t deserve such niceties.

I made each hat different with the recipient in mind.

I enjoyed creating these comfy caps for the ladies in my family and was pleased that they came together at ever increasing speeds; Jason was shocked at how quickly I was able to construct them by the end. Regardless of my knitting rapidity, some might question the logic of spending any amount of time assembling an item you could just buy in a store for less dough. It’s true that baby alpaca hair yarn is not cheap and thus purchasing beanies would have been more economical for me than knitting them but nothing’s as cozy as a handmade hat. That extra warmth no doubt comes from the knowledge that someone decided you were worth unnecessary effort. You can’t help but feel cherished wearing a cap that’s got a little of the maker’s love in every stitch.