Every January the Sundance Film Festival brings filmmakers, indie enthusiasts and superstar wannabes to Utah. While the celebs generally migrate to Park City, the humble theaters of Salt Lake City are classy enough for the likes of us and where we choose to experience this indie influx without the distracting glitz. This year Jason and I attended six Sundance screenings. They were all very different shows but each had merit.
To Be Takei, a documentary about the space and civil rights colossus George Takei, was our favorite film this year. It was just the right mix of serious and hilarious and meeting the man himself made the experience even better.
Jason and I got a chance to meet George Takei. He was a nice and genuine kind of guy.
The Overnighters, a poignant documentary about the strained relationship between the hopeful labor force that has been continually flooding into North Dakota in recent years to seek employment in the oil fields and the long-time residents, was thought-provoking. Fittingly, this film received an award at the festival for intuitive filmmaking.
Young Ones premiered at Sundance and featured one of my favs, Nicholas Hoult. This flick was an interesting futuristic fantasy with a retro texture. It was a bit of a downer really but still captivating.
The director of Young Ones, Jake Paltrow, provided one of our many fascinating Q&As this year.
The Double, directed by Richard Ayoade of The IT Crowd fame, was dark, I mean really dark, and depressing and funny all at once. It was an unexpected mix of sci-fi and stark reality.
Land Ho! was an amusing romp to Iceland with a pair of ex-brothers-in-law, a journey to reclaim their youthfulness. Jason and I found this film both believable and quite comical.
The Signal was a fun sci-fi thriller that kept us confused and guessing. And, days later, still thinking.
It’s more than okay to be Takei!
All but one of the shows we attended this year were accompanied by Q&A sessions with the directors, actors, subjects, etc. That might be a record for us. Since hearing straight from the horse’s mouth is our favorite thing about Sundance, we were pleased indeed to be in the presence of so many fine steeds.
It was another great year for Sundance cinema. On that note, I still don’t understand why more locals don’t make a point to be part of this annual event. Why not take advantage of your proximity to a little culture? God knows that most Utahns could use some more of that.
As a family Christmas present, my grandparents sent money for my parents’ whole lineup of offspring to go out to dinner. All 20+ of us hit a little Mexican place I had never heard of: La Hacienda in Draper. It turned out to be pretty tasty and the staff was very accommodating to our extra-large group. Jason was especially happy that they didn’t squish us onto an insufficient number of tables, which avoided the old “put one butt cheek on your neighbor’s lap and accidentally stab their hand with your fork” routine.
This enormous string of tables was required to seat our bulky group.
Tara and Savanna have a lot of energy, which they like to focus on mischievous endeavors.
Wesley is ever ready to make a funny face.
Our lengthy row of tables did eventually fill up.
It’s been many years since my family has all eaten out together. Last time we did we fit on one table. Yeah, it’s been that long. So it was a treat to have an outsourced meal. Thanks Grandma and Grandpa for giving the family horde a feast!
It’s funny how varied people’s responses are to the arrival of a new year. Some herald that annual transition with excitement and hope. To others, it means resolutions that are never kept and, to a few, it’s only a source of discontent because, after a short stay, it’s guaranteed that that “new” year will depart again leaving deeper wrinkles and bigger waistlines as parting mementos. I’m not one for resolutions. They never last and why wait for the year to change before implementing important changes in your life? There’s no time like the present. I’m also not among the mopers: those that look back at their accumulation of days with mournfulness rather than looking forward at the thrilling days still ahead of them with anticipation. There’s no time like the present. Thus, with that optimistic attitude, Jason and I awaited 2014 and celebrated its coming by attending two parties.
Jacob lost a round of Killer Oompi for which he had to roll in the snow while dancing like a crazy person. He pulled off crazy pretty well.
First, we visited the Rowleys’ and participated in the embarrassing and amusing tradition that is Killer Oompi. (It’s basically Speed Uno with penalties.) I only lost once but it was a big loss. I had to go through a very long spanking tunnel multiple times while singing my own version of “What Does the Fox Say?” to the snickering spankers. I bet you always wanted to know what the crab, iguana and narwhal say.
This group of giants represents a significant portion of my high school buddies.
Jason seems a touch too happy here considering it’s just sparkling juice that he’s sipping.
After Jason and I finished humiliating ourselves, we headed to Cam and Fran’s for a relaxed conclusion to our festive evening. Those assembled feasted on ice cream and went way down memory lane with old high school scrapbooks.
A toast to friendships that have lasted through many new years.
Many thanks to those that hosted gatherings that night. We gratefully welcome our few chances to be the party guests rather than the party throwers.
All in all, it was a very satisfying changeover into the new. Hello 2014! I know you’ll only be around for a bit but we’ve still got three hundred and forty-something days to rock this planet together so let’s get started. There’s no time like the present.
Christmas, you instigator of frenzied shopping, frantic wrapping and endless gorging, let us rejoice in your extravagance and overconsumption but let us also delight in your bits that require no buying, no packaging and no heralding like the merriment of family, the wonder of children and the joy of hope.
Jason and I made an assortment of cookies to contribute to the Christmas Eve feast, including gingerbread men of varying sanity. And yes, that is frosting on my chin.
I wish I could say that this Christmas was calmer than most for me and Jason but I wouldn’t want to jeopardize my “nice” status with such lies. Santa’s got enough problems on his hands.
On Christmas Eve Jason and I went to my sister Tonya’s house for dinner and entertainment. She generously provided yummy Café Rio fare and a festive musical program. She also supplied a good laugh in the form of a few rounds of Telestrations, a game as warped as those playing it. It was a pleasant evening full of fillings and feelings.
Madison and Tonya treated us to a Christmas program with music, pictures and verse.
Christmas crackers are a Sabin tradition we’ve introduced my family to.
Miraculously, Jason and I had Christmas morning all to ourselves this year. Despite our late bedtime on Christmas Eve, around 3 AM, Jason woke up bright and early on Christmas. Much like all the 5-year-olds out there, he was too excited to sleep. He settled down for French toast casserole and the exchanging of a few gifts though. That’s what our morning consisted of and, notwithstanding its simplicity, to us it was finer than partying with the jolly man himself. Who doesn’t wish for a little Christmas peace?
Abigail appreciated the abundant cookies and helped herself to about ten of them.
In contrast to our morning, our afternoon was spent hurrying from one family shindig to the next for nonstop food stuffing and present unwrapping. Despite this continual dashing, I believe that crumpled bows and overextended bellies were the only casualties of our insanity.
I crocheted these two scarves and knitted this hat. Although scarves are pretty simple to make, these were for big boys so they took over three skeins of yarn apiece.
Miracles do happen: Jason and I had some time to take it easy on Christmas morning.
Speaking of presents, I know there are many among you that believe gift giving is a lesser form of love expression and should be discouraged at Christmastime but I couldn’t disagree more. A thoughtful gift, whether crafted by doting hands or painstakingly picked out after much reflection, not only speaks of the bearer’s affection but also of their unique personality. I’m a big fan of bestowing gifts; I enjoy finding or creating presents that the receivers didn’t know they always wanted. This year, in addition to the many items I purchased, I crocheted scarves for Jason’s brothers and knitted a hat for my sister-in-law. It’s too bad that Jason’s siblings are such large fellows; their scarves took much longer to weave than they would have for recipients closer to my size. These tasks of love, and cramped fingers, were the reason for our late bed-going on Christmas Eve but I made that sacrifice of sleep happily for I believe in the importance of gifts.
The whole Sabin troupe gathered on Christmas.
Jason received an amusing gift from our sister-in-law Erin. A moustache disguise was among its treasures.
Christmas, you big scoop of extreme consumerism drizzled with some hope of humanity and topped with a sense of brotherhood, long may you inspire kindness and excessive shopping. For, although you may not be perfect, you always provide necessary light amid winter’s months of dreary darkness.
Jason and I have slowly been amassing Lord of the Rings and Hobbit Lego sets over the last couple of years. As foretold, the mightily magnificence of these sets remained concealed in their boxes until the ring saw its opportunity to seize the greater part of our living room. Finally, this December, the time had come.
This stronghold of Rohan was formed by Jason.
This may not seem like nearly 5000 pieces of Tolkien’s world but that’s what it all adds up to.
We thought the release of the latest Hobbit movie a befitting occasion to create Middle-earth out of building blocks so we devoted a couple of afternoons to this epic quest and put together 4564 pieces of Tolkien’s fantastical land. This was my first experience constructing Legos and I have to say that it was more fun than I thought it would be. When you’re building a set you notice details missed by the uninvolved observer and you get the thrill of making something coherent out of nonsensical bits. Plus, forming Weathertop’s stairs or Bilbo’s door is reward enough for the incorrigible nerd. (Yes, I am incorrigible, obviously.)
The look on Frodo’s face says it all.
I have faced the enemy’s forces of paint and plastic and I have pushed them together with my own hands of skin. One Rachel ruled them all! (I suppose Jason was sort of involved too.)