Saturday, December 10, 2011

Operation Snail Cup: 30 stories of Hope and Inspiration and counting!

Back in October, I launched my website:, sharing stories of hope and inspiration from around the world on a global google map.

Less than two months later: OperationSnailCup now has 30 inspiring stories from 6 different countries and 5 continents! Based mainly in the U.S, Snail Cup has now reached Canada, Italy, Israel, Chile, and Kenya.

If you would like to add your story of hope and inspiration: could you please write a short story of one of the defining moments in your life where you partook or witnessed a moment or act of hope or inspiration? My class and I would be very grateful. To protect your privacy, I would only ask to use your first name and location. Pictures are appreciated either of you, or of this moment you are sharing.

Thank you so much for contributing to my class project. I hope to see it grow and flourish with stories of hope and inspiration that we can share together in these uncertain times.

Thank you for your time,

Please e-mail all stories and pictures to my e-mail: 

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

The Invention of Hugo Cabret, by Brian Selznick.

"...I want you to picture yourself in the darkness, like the beginning of a movie. On screen, the sun will soon rise, and you will find yourself zooming toward a trainstation in the middle of the city. You will rush through the doors of a crowded lobby.You will eventually spot a boy amid the crowd, and he will start to move through the train station. Follow him, because this is Hugo Cabret. 
His head is full of secrets, and he's waiting for his story to begin."

Recently, I saw a movie trailer for Martin Scorsese's new film Hugo which looked really magical: an adventure, with kids, secrets, and hiding places, and a robot machine with a story to tell. This movie had all the similar makings of The Polar Express, another successful holiday classic magic story that I watch annually to remember watching a story with the glint of a child's eye. I stored it as a film to see over Thanksgiving Break, probably by myself, as it did look as if it were geared to children. Sometimes, I can sell a kid movie to Tom (my husband) like I did successfully with Despicable Me, Toy Story 3, Fly me to the Moon, but sometimes I am unsuccessful and he becomes wary of my choices: Enchanted (Tom: "There's singing in this movie?!") So I figured I'd be seeing this one on my own...but after reading the book, (which even at its colossal 520 pages reads in less than an hour or two, due to the fact that it's mainly a "graphic novel" interspersed with a story only 26,000 words long-only 128 pages of text,) I think I may even be able to convince Tom to see it!

Before today, I had no idea the book was even connected to the new movie Hugo, until one of my students pointed it out to me this morning in class. (Thank you!) Knowing it was a graphic novel I could get through in a day, I took it home and read it. I found it as magical, endearing and inspiring as I had hoped for! 

Especially in learning that the mechanical "automaton" in the story was based off of a real machine created by the Swiss inventor Maillardet! David Selznick, the author, shares the website where you can see two different automatons from the 19th century operate: the process and end result are stunning and worth a look! You can view the YouTube video's of the automatons working here.

You can also view the trailer for Scorcese's latest film here. Check the movie and the book out: I hope you enjoy the magic as much as I did!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Susan G. Komen 2012 Boston 3-Day for the Cure!

Greetings readers! I just wanted to let you know that I've been blogging over at my other blog: which was specifically created to follow my 2nd 3-Day for the Cure experience. Feel free to check it out!

Monday, October 17, 2011

Snail Cup: A Global Story of Hope and Inspiration.

 Hello, welcome to my blog!

My name is Aimée and I’m a middle school Language Arts teacher in Land O’Lakes, Florida. I’m writing to ask you a major favor. I am hoping to collect stories from around the country and the world. Small moments of hope and inspiration, moments that I can plug into my class Google Map to track where we are receiving responses from.

If you wouldn’t mind, could you please write a short story of one of the defining moments in your life where you partook or witnessed a moment or act of hope or inspiration? My class and I would be very grateful. To protect your privacy, I would only ask to use your first name and location. Pictures are appreciated either of you, or of this moment you are sharing.

Thank you so much for contributing to my class project. I hope to see it grow and flourish with stories of hope and inspiration that we can share together in these uncertain times.

Thank you for your time,

Please e-mail all stories and pictures to my e-mail:

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Happy Stories of the Week

In a world where it's easy to avoid the conglomerate new sites and t.v. hours because of the constant influx of the negative: I've decided that it's time to bookmark a few "keepers," a few happy sites to help me hone a focus on the positive.

So, I've been hunting "happy news" lately. I stumbled across, the Good News NetworkGimundo...and I've found some cool stuff!

Top "Happy" Stories:
1. A "Live Action" Simpsons Intro created by a extremely dedicated fan for all of my friends who like the show.
2. "9- Affordable Ways to de-stress."
3. Waitress gets $1,000 in lost money back from Charger's Fans! (WOW!)
4. This AMAZING clip shows "Stop Motion" animated SAND SCULPTURES. (Very cool!)
5. "On Nice Girls." (FINALLY!)
6. This review of Guy Kawasaki's new book Enchantment: Winning People Over the Ethical Way.
7. "Simple Steps to Happiness."  The Best Places on the Web to visit for a mind boost.
8. "Five Ways to Give Without Spending a Dime." 

“We find that not only do altruistic actions bring about happiness but they also lessen our experience of suffering. Here I am not suggesting that the individual whose actions are motivated by the wish to bring others happiness necessarily meets with less misfortune than the one who does not. Sickness, old age, mishaps of one sort or another are the same for us all. But the sufferings which undermine our internal peace, anxiety, doubt, disappointment, these things are definitely less. In our concern for others, we worry less about ourselves. When we worry less about ourselves an experience of our own suffering is less intense.” 
-- Dalai Lama

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Paperback Swap: Swap out those useless old shelf stealers...

Last year, Nicole turned me onto a site called "PaperBack Swap" where you can send out your old paperback novels in media mail (for cheap!) to people that request them, earning credits towards books of your own selection. I finally signed up last week, and after listing ten titles, had seven of them requested of me. I sent them out and waited for people to confirm their arrival- and then went shopping myself for new books that I've wanted to read!

How does it work? Connected to your e-mail, you get an alert whenever someone requests one of your listed books. You have two days to confirm the request, and about four to mail it out. Your 1-book credit will arrive when the book's arrival is confirmed by the requester.

How much does it really cost? Nicole showed me about the "brown paper" roll that's cheap to buy that you can wrap your book in with some basic packing tape. You also can print out the shipping address (optional) for your book. Then it will cost you between $1-$3.00/per book to ship it out Media mail across America.

What you get for free: Every time one of your books is confirmed as received, you get a credit to go shopping for books on the PaperBack Swap site. As of today- there were over $5M books available to order.

Additional Services: 
-The website has sister sites for CD and DVD swapping as well.
-You can buy 'book credits' for about $3 if you run out.
-You can create a "Wish List" and wait for popular or rare books to become available. You will get an e-mail notification when it becomes available to order.
-You can peruse multiple "book club" lists and "top" book lists...I found some new Historical Fiction books that way ( replace Game of Thrones now that I'm done with that series for the moment!)

Check it out! It's a great way to swap out your novels for something new!

Friday, August 12, 2011

Book Reviews: The Help, Game of Thrones Series.

Summer is finally the time where I can dive headfirst into the stack of books I've been saving all school year to read. This summer has also been pretty prolific (in numbers of pages read) if not very diverse. (I love a good fantasy series.) With that being said: book review time!

1. The Help, by Kathryn Stockett. Synopsis: A white college grad writes an exposé of the domestic experiences of black women in white homes with the help of maids across Jackson, Mississippi in the early 1960s.

Thoughts: I appreciate that the author tried to remain as faithful as possible to the relationships of the women in the novel. However, it was a mediocre attempt at really trying to "bridge the gap" between ethnicities during Segregation in the 1960's. A lot of the success of the main character Skeeter (a squeaky clean college grad) is based around the novel idea of "talking" to black women. Granted, Skeeter did eventually enlist the help of a dozen maids to help her write her novel, I wish she had done a bit more: talked to other people (such as Celia, Stuart, the Senator, her father) and inspired them to help her make bigger changes for Civil Rights in the community in the year it took her to write the book. Even the author admits the book falls short of her goal of: "...trying to understand [what it's like to be a black woman in Mississippi in the 1960s] is vital to our humanity" (p. 451). Granted this is a tricky subject to write about as a white writer, as she talks about in the Afterword, quoting Howell Raines's Pulitzer Prize Winning article, "Grady's Gift": ...There is no trickier subject for a writer from the South than that of affection between a black person and a white one in the unequal world of segregation. For the dishonesty upon which a society is founded makes every emotion suspect, makes it impossible to know whether what flowed between two people was honest feeling or pity or pragmatism... So the entire book was suspect for me as a white reader- I can't know what it's like to be a black woman, never mind in the 1960s. It's uncomfortable, brash, unforgiving, painful, especially with Hilly Holbrook's blatant racism, but it's important to experience the weight of her words from the perspective of the women she and others are targeting, and it stings. In the end however, the villains (Hilly included) get what they deserve when Skeeter's book about them is published, and then black workers educate the community, earn a modicum of respect and appreciation, and gain the confidence and knowledge that they can make a difference. 

Advice: Read it. 100-pages in and it's a quick-paced exposé.

A Song of Ice and Fire
George R.R. Martin's Epic Fantasy Series:

George R. R. Martin's A Game of Thrones 4-Book Boxed Set: A Game of Thrones, A Clash of Kings, A Storm of Swords, and A Feast for Crows (A Song of Ice and Fire)After watching the first episode of Game of Thrones on HBO this past spring, I immediately downloaded the electronic novel onto my iPhone and started reading Daenerys' storyline chapters through the end of the book. I couldn't wrap my mind about reading the multiple story-lines of  a 900-page book yet. Expeditiously, in episode two I began anticipating other story-lines as well, and eventually started reading the book (after purchasing the 4-book paperback set) [$20 online at Amazon] from cover to cover. What is frustrating (and endearing) about the series is the length and scope of the stories, families, settings and characters, and the time it takes to read each novel because of this verbose author. Granted, many fantasy aficionados started or have discovered the series prior to the HBO series, (since G.o.T was release in 1996) over the past fifteen years. That would allow a certain anticipation as the five books were released and  suitable amount of time (3-5 years) until the next installment. Being late to the bandwagon, I had over 4,800 pages to catch up on. (Especially as A Dance With Dragons was released this summer WHILE I was catching up!) Having read 4,500 of them now (I am loathe to finish the last 300 pages of Dragons knowing a half a decade might pass before the next one is released,) I have a renewed appreciation for Martin's J.R.R.Tolkien-esque world. He journeys far deeper into character development, plot (a series for twists!), and continents than Tolkien ever did, making him the King of the Fantasy genre. With trepidation I can only await the next installment. For as George R.R. said in his own words: "After all, as some of you like to point out in your emails, I am sixty years old and fat, and you don't want me to 'pull a Robert Jordan' on you and deny you your book." — George R.R. Martin 

...Touché, George...and now a review of the best and worst of the series.

Supplementary Materials:
1. Like Tolkien's Middle Earth- the world of Game of Thrones has its own online encyclopedia. For a sneak peek of the scope of the Houses in the series: check out this list.

2. The Cartographer's Guild put together this GORGEOUS map (on right) of Westeros for fans to chart and follow as they read the series. (It enlarges to poster size).

3. Although there are maps in each novel, a "world" map is missing- one that shows the location of the East as well as the Seven Kingdoms. The Best one that I could fine is here.  (Thumbnail on left)

A Game of Thrones: A Song of Ice and Fire: Book One1.  A Game of Thrones (Book One). 

Synopsis: The fictional Seven Kingdoms are in turmoil as King Robert Baratheon dies and there is a scramble for succession which leaves many lead characters dead. (Recently I was reading an interview with George R. R. Martin and he was talking about the fan reactions to the deaths in the HBO series and he mentioned this HILARIOUS 4-minute YouTube review rant  [Warning: foul language] about the Season Finale.)

Thoughts: Game of Thrones will only take you ankle deep into the Seven Kingdoms, but it's a depth that is as refreshing as a mountain stream on a hot summer day. But, winter is coming (Literally- winter can be decades long in this world) and the characters must now prepare for the succession fallout.

Advice: Everyone should read this book. It should replace the whole LOTR trilogy in high schools. (Finally some strong female characters I can care about! Sorry Tolkien.)

A Clash of Kings (A Song of Ice and Fire, Book 2)2. A Clash of Kings (Book Two). 

Synopsis: The three warring families: the Starks (of the North), the Baratheon's (of King's Landing) and the Lannisters (of Casterly Rock) all submit candidates for King for the realm and this novel is the resulting war and fallout as thousands of testosterone-laden protein junkie soldiers try to find something to do. (I'm kidding). The best story line is Arya Stark, the ten-year old daughter of Eddard Stark, who flees King's Landing on her own and defends herself with her trusty short sword Needle before she is swept up in disguise as a boy around the realm by various lords. Also: across the Narrow Sea, Daenerys Targaryen, the true, but deposed queen to Westeros, raises her newly hatched dragons and plots her conquest of Westeros to be able to reclaim her throne.

Thoughts: Clash is my favorite of the series so far. A classic "sequel" to Game of Thrones, it answers the questions I was left wondering about at the demise of Ned Stark in book one. It reads quickly, and pulls you deeper into the world Martin has created. You won't want to turn back at the end of this one.

Advice: Only read it if you can commit the next three months of your life to finishing the rest of the series because it really will engross you obsessively!

3. A Storm of Swords. (Book Three)

Synopsis: Book three broadens the realm with new characters and narrative points of view. The reader's thirst for answers is barely sated, as this world expands with more complexity into different continents and back stories. A new and surprisingly witty plot-line involves Brienne of Tarth, a female warrior, who is hired by Catelyn Stark to transport Jamie Lannister safely back to King's Landing. It does not go well for her, but her disdainful "relationship" with Jamie is delightful to read. Arya is now traveling with a band of brigands, but is later captured by Sandor Clegane who wants to ransom her to her mother. They arrive too late, as her mother and brother are killed at the Red Wedding. Catelyn is eerily re-animated by a Red Priest several days after her demise and now sort of resembles a  zombie. It's vague. We never really hear about her again. Jon Snow (Ned Stark's bastard son of fifteen) up at the wall (a brother of the "Night's Watch") between the North and the "Others," journeys north of the Wall into the creepy frozen wasteland Haunted Forest to discover the reason the wildlings (native northerners) are gathering. Jon is eventually chosen as Lord Commander by his peers of the whole watch.

Thoughts: A book of twists! It's the longest paperback in the series at 1,216 pages, but it's easily the most entertaining along the way.

Advice: Enjoy it. The next two books are equally frustrating as Martin splits the plot into two books and divides them by continent.

4. A Feast for Crows. (Book Four)

Synopsis: Following the story-lines of Arya, (as she escapes Clegane and flees across the sea to Bravvos) Sansa (Arya's sister, smuggled out of King's Landing to her Aunt's castle in the Eyrie) Sam (Jon's steward who smuggles Gilly and the Wildling King's baby south to Oldtown) and the Greyjoys over in the Iron Islands as they try to reclaim the North. In the South, we are introduced to the Martell family, (Kings of Old) who are looking for a way to reclaim Westeros as well and Brienne of Tarth is looking for the Stark sisters. Cersei Lannister plots the demise of the young queen Margaery Tyrell but both end up in custody of the church on charges of adultery. Jamie Lannister is not quick to save his sister, having grown apart from her shallow politicking. 

Thoughts: It is hugely irritating to not read about the other characters at the same time. I think Martin should have split the huge story into two books by time, not place. It's extremely frustrating. 

Advice: You're too deep now in the series to quit so like all of the rest of the fans you grumble and complain and read it anyways.

A Dance with Dragons: A Song of Ice and Fire: Book Five5. A Dance with Dragons. (Book Five.)

Synopsis: Following the story-lines (at the same time as the events of Storm) of Jon Snow up at the wall with King Stannis, Mance Ryder and the Red Priestess, Daenerys across the sea as she conquers and holds Meereen in Slaver's Bay, Tyrion Lannister, who fled to Bravvos after killing his father Tywin, head of the Lannister household and discovers that Daenerys' nephew Aegon is alive (another heir to the Targaryen bloodline). A fake Arya Stark (Jeyne Poole)  is married off to the bloodthirsty Boltons.

More to come tomorrow when I finish the book! 

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

A Salute for the Greatest Generation.

I have always loved the tunes of the 1940's and 50's: the crooning of lyrics, the vibrato, the was only a matter of time before I decided, shortly after learning the basics of Garageband (on my Mac,) that I'd try my own versions of some of these classics. Check them out below!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

"Hot Summer: Hot Workouts - A guide to Summer Outdoor Activities."

"Hot Summer: Hot Workouts - A guide to Summer Outdoor Activities."

I would be remiss not to admit that this native Bostonian had a bit of trouble transitioning into the summer heat of Florida after moving here in 2007, but for the past four years, I've been trying to get outside as much as I did up North, even in the sweltering dog days of a summer in Tampa. So what are the best outdoor activities in the equatorial region during the hottest months of the year? Check out my attempts (and failures) at getting to know (and running away from) the local ecosystem!

1. Biking (Ft. Myers Beach) Or carriage pedaling...I recommend the carriage because of it's shade and easy camaraderie with your companions. There are lots of local trails for road biking and mountain biking as well: Tom and I had a fabulous off-road adventure in the backwoods of Flatwoods Park (New Tampa) during a thunderstorm, where we saw a dozen armadillos which come out in the rain to dodge the heat.

 2. Walking (during non-noon hours). While training for he Susan G. Komen 3-Day for the Cure, Rachel and I walked through every kind of heat on our 12-hour days here in Tampa all summer long last year. Surprisingly: as long as we stayed hydrated (water and G2) and ate enough snacks, it wasn't intolerable. The best hours were pre-sunrise (6AM-9AM). The worst hours (which had us fleeing mass quantities of uber-poisonous Water Moccasins) was surprisingly at sunset (5-7PM) when the snakes come out to warm themselves on the warm bike track. 

3. Go horseback Riding. Recently I was debating the athletic-nature of horseback riding with Rachel and she won when she countered with, "are your legs muscles sore after riding?" Touché! Surprisingly, you can burn 170 calories per hour at a walking-gait on a horse! That's a fun way to burn calories! 

 4. Rock Climbing. (Or wall climbing: that's me up there on the right racing Melissa!) Rock climbing takes an amazing amount of muscle strength (apparently I'm doing it wrong using mostly my arms- and leaning out when you're supposed to stay up close up agains the wall). But a great workout! 

5. Ropes Courses. Since my summers at Camp Finberg, I've always loved the high (and low) ropes courses. (See photo of me hanging upside down on the zipline at Circle F Dude Ranch below). I'm sure there are some good calories spent here doing these types of activities...and probably even more if you have anxiety and a fear of heights! So perhaps I should find something a little more "intensive" since hanging upside-down at fast speeds seems to de-stress me more than challenge me. 

6. Theme Parks! Theme parks combine thrills with all-day walking and sweating! All of these combine for a exciting way to beat the heat! (Especially with water rides: see Nicole, Rachel, Laura and I on Splash Mountain at left!)

7. Golfing. (Even the driving range can make your arms stiff for days!) Great for muscle tone, burning off steam and torso-rotations! You can add walking mileage in you golf a 9 or 18-hole course. 

8. Kayaking is a great way to see the alligators manatees in Florida. There are some great rental companies (such as in Homasassa Springs)  where you can get close to the manatees and Monkey Island. 

9. Beach Sports! Swimming, walking, jogging/running, stretching, yoga, catch, skim-boarding, fun-yaking, frisbee, football, boot camp, sand castle building, snorkeling, diving and more! 

10. Scuba Diving! You can't beat the water clarity/visibility of the Florida Keys! Finding buoyancy, swimming, carrying heavy weight, and breathing techniques make for an ideal play/fun athletic sport! 

What do you do to beat the summer dog days? Post a comment below! 

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Spotlight: The Renaissance Project


A Tampa based non-profit that hosts Russian foreign exchange students.

A non-profit near and dear to my heart is the Tampa based Renaissance Project, led by Eric Wilson (President) which brings three lovable, capable and underprivileged students from St. Petersburg, Russia, to our school family: Academy at the Lakes in Land O'Lakes, Florida.

Max, Daniil and Gleb with Lake Myrtle behind them on the Academy campus, Spring 2011.

Max, Gleb, and Daniil come each year to America to study, and to learn and teach others about their culture and experiences. Courageously brave enough to venture out and live in a different country at such a young age away from their families, these boys never shy from each opportunity available to them: advantages they would never have received at their government schools back home. Each fall, the boys say goodbye to their families for the ten-month school year, and through a generous sponsor, fly to America to live with Wilson, their caretaker and guardian for the school year.

I have had the privilege to teach both Daniil and Max during their middle school years, and stand amazed at the level of commitment and dedication that they bring to their studies, sports and activities. (Check out Gleb's story, Daniil's glogster or watch Max's video below.) These students are humble, grateful and truly deserving of every chance and opportunity America, and you, can help give them as they forge their way to college and beyond. 

Recently, the Renaissance Project was offered living space to grow the cause, at a local farmhouse, which Wilson has spent the summer renovating with help from multiple colleagues. Needing a full patching, priming and painting, after not having been lived in for years: the four bedrooms, living room and breezeway are now almost finished. Having had some free time since it's summer, I have been volunteering to help Wilson get the house in shape to be lived in. It was fun to be involved with the renovations, but a bit overwhelming starting almost from scratch with this 4-bedroom house, (although Wilson never once despaired of the intimidating "To Do" list) so I enlisted help from my husband Tom, and friends Sarah, Rachel and Rob get the house in prime condition for the boys' return in the fall. (Being the teacher of Max and Daniil, I can appreciate just how many hours both boys put into studying and doing homework for my class in particular, so I tried to give them back some of the effort they put in!) Day after day, one room at a time the house came together. The house is still in need of some finish work, and a kitchen overhaul, and appliances. If you can help, please see below. The gracious owner Dr. Lou, who has donated the space and forty acres of farmland for the meantime, fully supports Eric's renovations and re-roofed the house and bought supplies and new carpets to be installed in all rooms, is optimistic and supportive to the Renaissance Project and the opportunities Eric is providing to the four boys now (this fall brings Max's little brother to America as well!) to shine and be successful in this world. 

Please join me and consider donating to the Renaissance Project.  Your donation helps to cover the living expenses of the boys while in America and is also tax deductible. 

To contact the Renaissance Project, like this organization on Facebook, or to find out about other opportunities to help this worthy cause: please click here. 

Monday, July 18, 2011

Movie Survey: July 2011! must be summer. Finally I have a chance to see ALL of the movies playing in theaters! Reviews as follows:

1. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: PT. 2 My husband insisted that we see it at midnight- especially after a decade of his having appreciated the films. Having seen all the movies, and read all of the books however (and the seventh one most of all) I have to admit I was a bit disappointed in the lack of the Dumbledore plot-line. The effects won me over in the end, (as well as Neville's valiant Last Stand) and the epilogue as well (even though I spent most of my time staring at the aged make up.) See it in theaters and buy it on DVD. 

2. Horrible Bosses: The funniest movie of the summer. Go see it this weekend. Spacey, Aniston and Farrell all created the perfect villains and the comedy of the three male leads (especially Jason Bateman) is so tummy-crunchingly painfully amusing you might need to take a friend along. Watch for Jamie Foxx: scene stealer! (Rated R) See it in theaters.

3. Monte Carlo: I was hoping Monte Carlo would have a little substance (a far stretch-I know) but in the end it was a carbon-copy of every teenage "Princess" story, normal girl, princess for a day (or a week), gets the cute guy in the end because she is "deeper" than other girls. It grew tedious by the halfway point. Skip it (unless you are babysitting your young niece).

4. Midnight in Paris: Surprisingly charming! ...Maybe not 'charming' for it's couple-goes-sour plot-line, but for the imagery of the 1920's Paris Owen finds himself magically in, and then later the 1900's. Meeting famous painters and writers (most notably Ernest Hemingway and Pablo Picasso) Owen copes with his own novel getting advice from history's Greats. Rent it for a date night.

5. T3: Dark Side of the Moon. The Transformers are back! Surprisingly the best of the series, T3 starts off with our lead Sam Witwicky going on job interviews as even his secret "American Hero" status can't get him a job in this Recession. Poignant to the times, and heartfelt by most of the audience, Sam has to put himself in the line of fire to be heard by the government again, and to have a place fighting by the sides of Bumblebee, Jazz, and Optimus Prime, and more transformers again against the greatest invasion of our time. Michael Bay's effects in this film beat out any other contender in history for Best Special Effects of all time, sorry Jurassic Park, Independence Day and L.O.T. R. Advice: See it in theaters and buy it on DVD.

6. Bad Teacher. I wanted to like this movie...and it was funny, but also grossly irritating and superficial, playing off of the classic stereotypes of a 'bad teacher' and Diaz's Halsey only gets rewarded for slacking off, cheating, and committing fraud. The only redeeming quality of the movie was the much under-viewed Jason Segel (the comedic foil to Justin Timberlake's awkward and uncomfortable character). Jason stole every scene he was in. Advice: Netflix it as a view instantly when there's absolutely nothing else to see. 

7. X-Men: First Class: This movie was perfectly cast with James McAvoy as a young Xavier & Michael Fassbender as a young Erik-Magneto. (With the exception of the awkward blond, and Academy Award Winning Jennifer Lawrence, who made absolutely no sense as and bore no resemblance to Rebecca Romijn's older version of Mystique.) With the interesting Cuban Missile Crisis as the background of the plot events, viewers get wrapped up in the beginnings of the X-Men and of Xavier's school. We are treated to seeing new (and old) mutants and to a movie that was exceptional. Advice: Catch it in theaters before it leaves! 

8. Green Lantern. Ryan Reynolds is mostly known as a comedic actor, so it wasn't without some hesitance that I saw him as the Green Lantern in DC's latest revamp. Clearly DC is trying to catch the Marvel train with their reboots (a new Spiderman comes out later next year) but Marvel has hit fast forward with Iron Man, Iron Man 2, Thor, X-Men First Class, Wolverine Origins, The Wolverine (2012), Captain America, The Avengers and it seems DC dropped the ball this time. The movie is enjoyable, especially with the sassy-smart jet fighter pilot and J.R. CEO Blake Lively plays, and it definitely worth renting. Advice: Rent it. 

9. Captain America! I've been itching to see this flick for a while now (although I do feel like this is another extremely long trailer for The Avengers) but basically here's the run down: (1) I felt proud to be an American for an hour and a half watching us in our best hour defeat the monsters of the Holocaust-era 1940's. (2) I appreciated the glamour, costumes and basic etiquette skills now lacking in a constantly mindless download of social media. How often do I see cell phones at tables in restaurants? Look around. It's frightening. (3) I was really glad "a good guy" deep down was able to reach the level of hero that Captain America reached. I'm tired of all of these barbaric arrogant action heroes. (That was a lie: I loved Robert Downey Jr, Shayne West, Jason Momoa, and Chris Hemsworth.) So let me try to rephrase that: it's nice to see a scrawny kid from Brooklyn become such a nice guy hero. Advice: See it in theaters with the kids and the grandparents.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Bucket List Update: January 2015.

Aimee's Bucket List:
-Hike all 48 four thousand footers in New Hampshire with Mom. (8 left!)
-Hike the Appalachian Trail.
-Hike the Pacific Crest Trail.
-See Antartica.
-See the Aurora Borealis.
-Boire un cafe, sans lait, en Paris près du Tour Eiffel.
-Visit Ireland, Scotland, Sweden, France, England and UK territories, Germany (Bavarian Christmas Shops), Russia, Czech Rep. (Prague), Italy, Greece, Switzerland, Svalbard's seed vault, India, Japan, China, South Korea, Mexico, Grand Cayman, Grenada, Puerto Rico, Canada, Fiji, New Zealand, Tahiti, Iceland, Morocco, and more...
-Pray in a Buddhist temple in the Himalayas.
-Walk on the Great Wall of China.
-See the Terracotta Warriors.
- Earn $20M to send my dad to outer space and back (hey, he wants to go.)
-Buy Nate a '70 Chevy Nova.
-Buy Tom a used F1 race car
-Get Beth to hike Mt. Washington.
-See Christy get married in Ireland.
-Go on a cruise.
-See one of my students become a teacher.
-To be able to take care of my parents for the rest of their lives.
-Drive with Rachel from Seattle to Alaska 
after this summer's epic trip to Seattle.
-Go back to Prince Edward Island, Nova Scotia, Quebec and Montreal. 
-Drive Across America. (East-West)
-Ride the mules down to Phantom Ranch and see the Grand Canyon.
-White water raft part of the Colorado River.
-Publish a novel.
-Build a treehouse.
-Host foreign exchange students.
-Build a log cabin in the middle of the NH/ME woods.
-Win a shopping spree at L.L.Bean.
-Get a 'Vita Brevis: Vade Mecum' tattoo
-See a Manning vs. Brady game.
-Own a '65-'66 Mustang
-Have kids.
-Adopt/foster a kid.
-See a Red Sox Spring Training Game: 3/20/2011!
-Be a bridesmaid.
-Sing on a television show.
-Go on Survivor.
-Survive the  apocalypse with all of my gear and friends.
-Plant an organic vegetable garden.
-Install solar panels on my house.
-Stay for a week at the Mt. Washington Hotel to ski :)
-Compete in a Sprint Triathlon.
-Get cats.
-Scuba dive in the Caribbean.
-Go to Harry Potter World.
-See a Red Sox game at Fenway.
-See the Sox win a World Series.
-See the Colts win a Superbowl.
-Get married.
Travel Internationally.
Raise over $4,600.00 for cancer research.
Walk all 60 miles of the Susan G Komen 3-Day for the Cure. 
Walk the 3-Day with my Mom and friends for a second time.