Thursday, June 24, 2010

Traditions & Toys: 2 Journeys

Journey 1: 

Last Saturday we had our traditional annual family Strawberry Days 5K.  It took some convincing to get all usual parties in attendance this year (and of course we missed Grandma, who couldn't make it down this year), and as it turns out, there was good reason.  The price had gone up since last year, and many other changes had taken place:

• The race is now sponsored by the Pleasant Grove Police Department and Fire Department, and as such is now called the Strawberry Days "Guns and Hoses" 5K.

• The price has gone up significantly, which you would think means better prizes and/or treats...

• Prizes included a certificate (not even a medal??) for the top three in each age group for their gender, and an inexplicable "finisher's coin."

• Treats included questionable water and Krispy Kremes.  I mean, everyone loves Krispy Kreme, but is that REALLY what you want after a serious race?

• The course has changed as well, and is no longer the nice, mostly downhill run we usually look forward to, but a there-and-back course through another part of town.  It's still a pretty nice, level course, but who wants to retrace their steps?

• And... NO STRAWBERRIES.  What's the deal??

Of course we still had a good time, but some things are just better left the way they are...
I amazingly placed first in my age group, and was promptly awarded with this... certificate... filled out by hand right there in front of me...  Classy.  (21:14 was the time on the finisher's card, but I maintain that the 20:56 on the timer as I crossed the line is more accurate.)
It was still fun.  I was glad to have a family run again, and it was good to have Amber back in the game (and Brady of course).  We probably won't go back next year.  We're thinking of writing a professional but adamant letter of complaint.  Guns and Hoses... More like Guns and Hosers...

Journey 2:

Then, after a very quick shower and an even quicker breakfast burrito (which almost cost me a broken finger), we were off to the theater...

For the last two weeks The Wife and I have been plowing through the Disney/Pixar catalog in anticipation of the release of their latest, Toy Story 3.  14 days, 11 Pixar films, 11 Pixar soundtracks, 20 Pixar shorts.  Quality.  It was quite a feat (just ask Julie), and at times I didn't think we would finish in time, but we finished Up on Friday night, in perfect time for our matinee plans the next morning.  I will say this about Pixar's films:  They are all excellent.  (The Incredibles is still my favorite.)  Pixar knows how to write characters and tell a story in a way that any studio could emulate, and their continued partnership with Disney is a stroke of genius.  The last two or three of their films, while impressive to me, had been the first that didn't blow me away.  Toy Story 3 brought them right back up.

What can I say about this movie?  First of all, I won't post any actual spoilers, so don't be afraid to read on if you haven't seen it.  I don't want to go on too long for fear that people will skim, or worse, skip over entirely!  I will try to be succint:  IT WAS BRILLIANT.  It was a perfect capstone to the Toy Story trilogy, and brings characters and relationships full-circle in a way only Pixar could.  A little darker, deeper, sadder and funnier than the first two, it kept me guessing from start to finish, and took the audience on an emotional roller-coaster that I don't think anyone expected.  The first two films had their moments of heartstring-tugging emotion, but nothing like in this installment.  It wasn't heavy-handed or cheesy (which you would think would be the case, as the characters are, well, toys), it felt real and relateable and true.  It resonated with me on a personal level, and is the first Pixar film to bring me to running tears (and more than once).  It's a film about growing up, making changes, letting go and then holding on.  I laughed heartily (Pixar's films have a really unique sense of humor about them) and I cried openly (this was more than a sigh and an "Oh, how sweet").  Based around the question of the fate of toys once their owner has grown up, I really wondered what would happen to our core characters when Andy went to college.  The entire voice cast is back, with minor exceptions (Jim Varney, having passed away, as Slinky Dog, has been perfectly recast, for example), including even the original voice of Andy, having grown the same amount of years as his character since the first film.  There's a slew of new and amusing characters, as well as a few new baddies, and some who really make you wonder on which side they'll end up.  Technically, it was excellent as well.  They have come a long way since the cringe-worthy designs and animation of the human characters in their first film.  Even the toy characters have more nuanced and believable animated performances.  We grew up with these characters, and they have a history and background that allows the audience to immediately care about them.  Bravo, Pixar.  Another home run. I loved it.  Go see it.

Oh yeah, and Ken+Barbie=TLA.

Also, I'm not the only one to have noticed a certain similarity between me and college-bound Andy...  The fashion sense, the hairstyle, (probably) even down to our first name, I thought I saw a lot of myself in his design...  Julie didn't really see it, but, well... you be the judge:

 I love how I used that "smoldering" bowling picture.  I tried to find a better one (I even have a shirt kind of like his), but it was the right angle and close to the right expression, not to mention lacking the beard and glasses and chubbiness.

P.S.  The "Day & Night" short that ran before the film was innovative and interesting, pretty much like no animation I've seen before, but it was kind of weird and turned sort of propagandistic at the end.  That was an unpleasant surprise.


  1. Yay, I'm the first comment. I just posted about that sad excuse for the Strawberry Days race too. You are so fast now, how proud I am! Also, thanks for the great review of Toy Story. I can't wait to see it, those have always been my fav.

  2. Loved the post! I am excited to go see Toy Story 3. And he does look like you! Funny! Also, Elise told us the good news! Leland wants to come and visit :D

  3. Yes, Strawberry Days my FOOT! Too bad I missed all the good ones with good shirts and had to have a dumb one. Lame.

    Toy Story was SO great! Glad we went to the same showing. I didn't know it was the same Andy voice!

  4. well put. my sentiments exactly.