Now that the Sundance Film Festival is in full swing, I thought it appropriate to mention my most recent vacation, which coincidentally was at the Sundance Resort. I had to admit going in, I didn’t know all that much about the location. Sure I knew it was in Utah, and yes, I was aware that this was a Robert Redford baby, but beyond that, I didn’t really know much else about the resort. Granted, I’m a Floridian, and my children are not skiers, so it’s not a place in where you would immediately think to spend your winter vacation. Well, I’m glad I was open to the idea, because this is a place you need to visit.
Let me first take a step back. When I told my family and friends that I planned on traveling to Utah for my winter break, the first question I was asked was, “Oh, do you ski?” The answer to that question was no, well, not really. The immediate follow-up was, ‘Then why in the world are you going to Utah in December?” Let me explain. My family and I like to go away to some chilly resort every winter, because we’re snow chasers. Many may think this is a crazy pastime, but I grew up in the northeast, and the one thing I truly do miss while living here in Florida is the change of seasons. Give me a week in the snow and I’m cured. The bonus of course being that you do get to leave the twenty-degree weather for the warm sunshine of good old Tampa bay.
Getting there was easy enough. We landed in Salt Lake City, (beautiful view of mountain tops on the flight in) rented a truck, and within an hour’s drive were at the resort. As we pulled up to the establishment, I’ll never forget my daughter’s first reaction as she said, “So this is what’s considered a 5 star hotel in Utah?” Good luck to her future husband. Yes, it is, and it was majestic. You pull into the lodge to check in and from there you drive to your cabin. Funny thing, the bellhop just so happened to grab the two smallest bags in the truck and said follow him. Well, three stories of climbing twisting steps through the snow and lugging a fifty-pound bag later, I made it to the room. Either I’m really out of shape, or the altitude got to me, because I was winded. Let’s go with the altitude. For the record, I’m sure they would have grabbed the big bag, I was just feeling a little adventurous.
When we entered the room, I admit, I was impressed. They placed us in a beautiful log cabin with a view of the Timpanogos Mountains. We even had a stream flowing right below our balcony. The scenery was amazing. It certainly was a far cry from beaches and palm trees. The only thing I found odd was that in order to get to the second floor, you had to exit your room to the common area, or climb a ladder attached to the wall, which led to the loft upstairs. Well, my children loved that, but I decided to stay down below. The other thing I found odd, but really cool, was that the floor appeared to be heated. Heated floors, what? I know, I don’t get it, but I truly appreciated it after a spell outside.
As far as activities were concerned, you can pretty much imagine what was available. Now I know I said my family doesn’t ski, but I do, or did when I lived up north. It was quite the humorous experience watching them learn. I’m not sure if they would do it again, but I would in a heartbeat. Coming from the east, I could not believe the texture of the snow. I’ve always heard that the snow out west was great to ski in, because it’s like powder. Well, to my surprise, it really was. You can’t even make a snowball out of this stuff. I digress, we also went tubing, hiking, and score, I found a recreation center in Provo called the Provo Beach Resort, which is a must attend. They offered indoor golf, bowling, rope climbing, video games, surfing, and much, much more. We spent hours (and a small fortune) but had a blast.
Back to the resort. The food was excellent. There was a restaurant on the premises called The Foundry Grill. Very generous portions and one heck of a Sunday brunch. At night, the wife and I would escape to the Owl Bar, very cool atmosphere. They actually brought over the bar used by Butch Cassidy and the Hole in the Wall Gang from Thermopolis, WY. For the record, the people of Utah couldn’t have been nicer and of course, the scenery was magnificent.
The question remains, would I go back. This is a tough one to answer. I personally never like to visit the same place twice. When you only get two weeks off a year and you love to travel there are only so many places in the world you can visit. Life’s too short, so I guess the short answer is no. Would I recommend it to family and friends … absolutely! This was a very affordable trip and totally worth the visit. You’ve done good Mr. Redford, you’ve done good. Go visit Sundance; you’ll be glad you did.
Epic! This is a word my son says when he wants to describe something that’s totally cool to him. I find it’s a word very commonly misused in the English language. The dictionary defines the word as: a long poem, typically one derived from ancient oral tradition, narrating the deeds and adventures of heroic or legendary figures or the history of a nation. When it comes to the latest George R. R. Martin book entitled, ‘A Dance with Dragons’, released in July of 2011, I think epic is an appropriate use of the word.
Dragons is the 5th book in the ‘A Song of Ice and Fire’ series and it certainly lived up to some very long awaited expectations. Keep in mind that Mr. Martin plans on releasing two more novels in this series to complete this very long ‘what he considers’ trilogy. The book in itself was nine hundred and fifty nine pages, so the reading of this latest saga was indeed, epic. Granted, it’s been a busy holiday season, but I admit, it did take me much longer to complete than I originally anticipated.
That stated, now that I’ve completed this book, I admit, I wish there was even more to read. Although this was the fifth book in the series, the story line itself is more of a continuation from A Storm of Swords (book number three in the series and my personal favorite) written back in 2000. I had to admit, trying to remember exactly what happened the last time I read this series, especially going back to Swords was a bit daunting. I originally thought it would be a continuation of the series from the last book released, A Feast of Crows, back in 2005, but in soon reading, I recalled how in Crows, they omitted some of my favorite characters.
No worries, Martin brought them all back in book five. We got to revisits such favorites like Jon Stark, Daenerys Targaryen, & of course everyone’s favorite imp, Tyrion Lannister. Not only does Martin re-introduce these classic characters, but at the end of the novel he begins to tie in both story lines (Swords & Crows) by bringing back, even if in little does, Jamie Lannister, Arya Stark, and of course everyone’s favorite queen to hate, Cersei Lannister.
The story was a bit confusing to follow at first. There were many great storylines entwined into one another that you had to claw back from your memory to try and remember them all. For his part, Mr. Martin does do a good job of recalling what happened to some of his past heroes with little snippets here and there of good old Eddard Stark, Rob Stark, and Tywin Lannister, etc. It doesn’t take long for you to get completely absorbed back into the story line once again.
For any fan of the series, this is without question a must read. For any new comers who are just getting into the story line, thanks to HBO, do yourself a favor and start with A Game of Thrones. Mr. Martin has been labeled the American Tolkien and for good reason. There are five great books to read, and it only takes one to get hooked. For my part, I thoroughly enjoyed Dragons, and as always, I look forward to the next in the series. I’m particularly looking forward to reuniting all of the characters under one cover once again. I just hope I don’t have to wait another six years before it’s released.
Is it me, or is Robert Downey Jr. the comeback actor of our generation? I recently went to see Sherlock Holmes II (A Game of Shadows) and I thought this was yet another strong performance in his latest arsenal of movies dating back from Iron Man, through Tropic Thunder, to his latest adaptation of the super sleuth. This is an actor that everyone had given up for dead a few years back and now surprisingly he’s become one of the main actors that I would be willing to take a chance on viewing in almost any endeavor he attempts.
In the latest Sherlock film, Holmes was at his prime best. Once again, he had to resort to using all his cunning in order to thwart the evil plans of his main nemeses, James Moriarty, played by actor Jared Harris. I found the plot line in this film to be even more entertaining than the previous version. What better story line can you ask for than a super detective trying to stop the start of world war one? James Bond would have had a hard time trying to outsmart the incredibly gifted Mr. Holmes on this one.
I really enjoyed the fast action pace of this film. The acting, as hinted at above, was superb all around from Downey, to Jude law, and the aforementioned Harris. I thought director, Guy Ritchie, did a fanatic job of letting his audience take a peek into the super sleuth’s mind. I really enjoyed how they got you into the thought process of Holmes before each attack he planned. I also really enjoyed the super slow motion action they used throughout the film. I especially enjoyed watching the bullets fly by in slow motion as our retreating heroes were racing to get away. This certainly wasn’t something that you would expect to see in a fast paced action sequence.
Due to the success of the film after just two weeks of showing, I would fully expect this to become an on going series, much like the always-popular Bond films (albeit in a period piece). There seems to be a certain appeal that Mr. Downey has now cast over his audience. I know it may be the geek in me, but I for one hope to see a lot more of both Mr. Holmes and Mr. Stark in the near future. I know Downey is expected to make another appearance as Iron Man in the up coming Avengers film due out in May of this year to help kick-off the summer movie blockbusters. There’s a strong line-up of films expected to be released later this year.
Right now Tom Cruise is getting all the attention for his latest Mission Impossible film – Ghost Protocol in theaters now, and righty so, but for all those looking for an alternative, you could do a lot worse than seeing this film. Don’t call it a comeback, Mr. Downey, just keep doing what you’re doing. The people will follow. By Jove, Mr. Watson, I think he’s got a point.
For all of you interested in learning more about the Sherlock Holmes character, I would highly recommend getting the complete collection of his stories available on kindle. You may actually find that a number of these books could be downloaded for free. I know a number of the short stories that I’ve read recently by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, were in fact being given away for no cost. I’m not sure if it was simply a promotional item, or the fact that many old classics can be downloaded for free, but I thought it was a cool find. I personally have read the compete series before the movies came to air, but I’m a fan, and given the opportunity, I think you may be as well.
Ok, hiatus is over. I hope everyone enjoyed a wonderful holiday season. Hello 2012, let’s hope the Mayans are wrong. Whew, there’s a lot of catching up I have to do for missing the past few weeks of the year. Many programs have ended, many movies have been released, and some books were even finished. What didn’t happen? Well for starters, I did not complete the third and final book of my Mayhem trilogy – just yet. I do plan on accomplishing this goal by June of this year.
Where to start? Well, I would be amiss if I didn’t touch on the fantastic conclusion of Boardwalk Empire. I know this may now be very old news to some, but I feel I must discuss it nonetheless. Bravo, HBO for adding yet another solid collection in your strong stable of horses. Is it me, or has HBO become the premier television programmer of all channels? I cannot think of one public broadcasting company that can compete with the scope of programs, themes, ideas, etc. on the scale that HBO has produced over the past five years.
Back to Boardwalk. Bravo, Steve Buscemi. It’s about time this actor got his due. He’s always been known as a quirky kind of a guy playing some very strange oddball rolls (my personal favorite was Carl Showalter in Fargo), but I feel as though he was made for playing Nucky Thompson. I don’t know what happened in the screening process, or if he was even first choice for the role, but he’s made it his and I can’t see another actor playing this part. For many of you not too familiar with the program, the show takes place during the prohibition era of American history and this story specifically takes place in Atlantic City. Nucky is the unofficial mob boss of Atlantic City.
Season one did a fantastic job of introducing the many diverse characters and story lines of the program. We were introduced to a lot of new faces like, Michael Pitt (James Darmody), Nucky’s protégé gone astray. Kelly MacDonald (Margaret Schroeder), Nucky’s lover/wife. Michael Shannon (Nelson Van Alden), a prohibition agent, who is perhaps the craziest and most complex person of the entire show. The season did enough to wet our whistle and keep us interested in watching another. Season two did not disappoint.
Without going into any spoilers, if you were a fan of the Godfather films, you will love this program. I had to admit that the final episode did ring true to The Godfather; especially the scene in where Nucky got his grove back. Very familiar to the scene in where Michael Corleone became the Godfather, but it was fun to see the comparison. There is plenty of violence, sex, drugs/alcohol, racial conflict, etc. that you would expect to see during the time period; almost no subject was off limits. Not only do they broach these subjects, but they give it to you in gratuitous amounts – maybe more than you’re hoping to witness. You will see some of the goriest, violent kills ever witnessed on television. Some would say disturbing.
What really won me over was the fact that just when you thought the program may be going soft leading into season three, they took a book out of Game of Thrones and offed one of the most popular characters in the program. I will not reveal. Again, if you haven’t seen this program, do yourself a favor and give it a try. I’d be surprised if you didn’t like it. Then again, to each their own. This particular style of program is not for the squeamish and if that applies to you, than this may not be your cup of tea.
Finally, to Mr. Buscemi, keep doing what you’re doing. I love the direction his character has taken. Just when you think he’s done, he comes out swinging. Nobody backs Nucky in a corner. His character is now in a stronger position than ever before, unless … Mrs. Schroeder, what have you done? We’ll have to wait and see in season three. I’m not sure when the program will air once again in 2012, but I do look forward to the upcoming adventures of Nucky and his cohorts.