Announcement! Grad School

Happy December!

I can’t believe 2016 is almost over – thank goodness! It’s been a weird year for all of us it seems, so let’s hope 2017 brings some much needed positive change. Speaking of which…I posted about something on social media earlier – @MissAl_Leigh on Twitter & Instagram – that I also wanted to mention here.

I have been accepted to Cal State Fullerton’s Graduate School where I will earn my Master’s Degree in Communication Studies with an emphasis in Tourism & Entertainment!

I’m really nervous for this new adventure, but I’m excited to be going back to SoCal. While it seems like I would be even busier, I anticipate having MORE time to spend on the blog/vlog as I will only be in school two days a week with no job YET. I’m sure that will change as I find work & school picks up, but we’ll climb the hills & valleys together as always 🙂

Thank you for the continued support & stay tuned for upcoming vlogs like Food Friday & a Winter Haul! As always, please FOLLOW, COMMENT, SHARE, & LIKE!

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Arizona Adventures!

Hey everyone!
Today’s post is at least 3 months overdue – sorry! I’ve been having some technical issues with iMovie that’s causing delays on my Vlogs so stay posted as there’s a lot to come!

This vlog is a little disjointed as you’re seeing what was meant to be part of an ongoing series about shenanigans to get into in Arizona because I was living there & attempting to get into shenanigans – followed immediately by footage of me moving back home.
If you’re confused about when I lived in Arizona, don’t worry – you’re not alone! I was going to film a big announcement & create several videos discussing the move, however, circumstances changed quickly & creating an ongoing series seemed pointless.
Long story short, I moved to Arizona in December 2015 for a new job in an attempt to expand my Resume, broaden my horizons by living in a new state, & live closer to several friends/family members, including my godchildren. Unfortunately, my grandma was diagnosed with cancer very shortly after that & I moved back to NorCal in July 2016 to help my family & spend time with her.

Please enjoy this small snippet of my time in Arizona featuring Danny from Savage Squad, click here to see their channel! Please FOLLOW MissAl-Leigh.com to stay updated with future shenanigans, SUBSCRIBE to the YouTube channel for more vlogs, SHARE, LIKE, & COMMMENT! Thank you 🙂

Beauty Deals 2.0

Sunday Book Club! Bossypants by Tina Fey

Hello again!
Today’s Sunday Book Club Review is “Bossypants” by Tina Fey.

Initial Thoughts:
For a long time, I had no idea who Tina Fey was because I didn’t watch too much TV. Eventually, even I couldn’t miss the impact she was having on pop culture with her skits on Saturday Night Live, especially her impression of Sarah Palin. Still, I never formed too much of an opinion on her. As I became more interested in working in the Entertainment industry, her name popped up more & more as a Feminist alley. She was different from other female celebrities. She was intelligent, funny, hard working, a writer! She was a woman in power in a male dominated industry! She has remained relatively scandal free which has helped me remain neutral, yet curious to dig deeper, hence my interest in her autobiography, “Bossypants”. Thank you to my friend Marcela for buying me this book for my birthday! Keep reading to see if I’ve been converted to a Tina Fey super fan!

Plot:
“Bossypants” doesn’t necessarily have a plot. The book tells anecdotal stories ranging from Fey’s youth to her time before SNL to her marriage & eventual journey into parenthood, among other topics.

Quotes:
– Pg 53: “I only hope that one day I can frighten my daughter…Right now, she’s not scared of my husband or me at all…How can I give her what [my dad] gave me? The fear of getting in trouble. The knowledge that while you are loved, you are not above the law. The World-wide Parental Anxiety System is failing if this many of us have made sex tapes.”
YES! I have been saying something similar to this since I was a teenager. I would watch my friends get into shenanigans & ask them, “Aren’t you afraid your parents will kill you!?!” The answer was always a laugh & a shrug, or a straight up no. I’ve never experienced that carefree feeling. Even when I do something relatively small but “bad”, I think, “Better not tell Mom I stayed up all night, ate a carton of ice cream, & drank half a bottle of wine!” because I live in fear of her judgement & disappointment. My mom is by no means harsh or strict, she just has high expectations. Perhaps Fey & I experienced this Parental Anxiety System because we have older parents that didn’t feel like they needed to be our friend. Whatever the reason, I was happy to find finally this connection with someone!
– Pg 225: “If Darrell [Hammond] is da Vinci, Will [Ferrell] is Monet, & I am me, in a wig.”
I found Fey to be a bit TOO self deprecating. Of course if she was full of herself, I wouldn’t like that either, so there’s no winning. I just feel bad for her – how silly is that! Seriously though, she fights this battle that females are just as funny as males & does a great job praising her friends, but often talks about how she’s not funny. It’s meant to be tongue in cheek but it was a bit off putting like, why am I reading your book if you don’t even believe in yourself?

Overall: B+
I gave “Bossypants” a B+ because Fey’s stories are well written, funny, & easy for me to connect with. However, I found that without a solid storyline to follow, no drama, no climax, I occasionally lost interest. The most interesting stories centered around Fey’s career before SNL & behind the scenes stories of SNL & 30 Rock. However, I might be biased because that’s where my current interest lies. If I was a new parent, I might find Fey’s tales of parenthood way more entertaining, I guess it just depends on the reader. Definitely a good choice for those interested in the Entertainment industry with a Feminist edge to it & of course, fans of Tina Fey.

Have you read “Bossypants” or another Autobiography of someone in the Entertainment industry? If so, what are your thoughts? Please feel free to share your thoughts & book suggestions with me in the comments below!

The next Sunday Book Club is August 7th & the book is “Turn of Mind” by Alice LaPlante.

Movie Review! Pitch Perfect 2

As I’ve discussed here before, I grew up doing musical theater, acting, and cheerleading, among other performance based activities. Whenever a film comes along that touches on any of that, I’m usually super psyched to see it. Yes, “Bring It On” is one of my favorite movies – although I don’t care for any of the films that followed. That seems to be the trend. I love the first “Pitch Perfect”. I really connected with the plot and especially Anna Kendrick’s character, Beca. She has the perfect amount of sass and sarcasm, yet shows a lot of heart & dedication to the Barden Bellas, which I identify with in regards to my 10 years of cheerleading experience. I really wanted to love “Pitch Perfect 2”, but unfortunately, I just couldn’t. I’m sure my opinion will not be popular, but please read below for my list of Likes, Dislikes, Final Thoughts, and Rating! Don’t be shy – click the FOLLOW button on the top right of this page to be notified when my next post goes up 🙂

Likes:
– I empathized with Beca’s attitude towards the Bellas. She was appreciative for the experiences they’d had together, but felt it was time for her to move on. She felt torn between dedicating her time to the “last hurrah” and her future. I understand how she felt. During the end of my time cheerleading, I started to feel like the near constant injuries I was sustaining didn’t make sense to tolerate anymore. I knew I wasn’t going to be a cheerleader forever, or even in college, so why permanently injure myself over something that wouldn’t be permanent in my life? It’s hard to come to terms with those emotions, so I applaud PP2 for taking on that storyline.
– The scenes that took place at Beca’s Internship were the funniest parts of the film.

& that’s it. That’s literally it.

Dislikes: There are so many things I disliked about this film. SO MANY.
– The story seemed undeveloped. I loved the first Pitch Perfect because you really got to know all the characters and their quirks. You hardly see Jesse – Beca’s boyfriend. You hardly learn any new information about any of the characters.
– I was disappointed with Flo, who is basically a Guatemalan version of Lilly, a strange, awkward non-white character thrown in to up the count of non-white actors. However, does it really count as being inclusive, broadening your casting, & having a multi-racial cast if all the character does is reinforce negative stereotypes of their race?
– The “love story” between Bumper and Fat Amy. They could have turned that into a substantial storyline about how Fat Amy was afraid to get into a relationship because she didn’t want to lose her independence or because she wasn’t sure where her life was going after college, etc. Nope. They just created a cheesy, dramatic, excuse to throw in another 80’s throwback love song, like they did with “Don’t You Forget About Me”. However, the inclusion of “Don’t You…” was well executed because it made sense with the rest of Beca & Jesse’s story – and yes, it reminded me of “Bring It On” when Torrance includes the songs from Cliff’s Mix Tape into the Toro’s competition routine. You don’t often see “big girls” involved in love stories, so I was (again) disappointed that they chose to make Fat Amy’s love story sloppy and uncomfortable.
– I didn’t appreciate the substantial number of jokes aimed at women.  A few I remember off the top of my head were the classic, “Women belong in the kitchen”, “This is why we shouldn’t send women to college”, “I’ll do whoever it takes”, and one character’s plan to become “A music teacher in a 3rd world country, or an exotic dancer. Whatever pays more!” Really? In a movie marketed towards young woman, the target audience is being subjected to jokes that put us down. I’m so glad I paid money for this! Seriously, if I wanted to subject myself to BS like this I’d just look around the Internet for free.
– The classless jokes didn’t end there. This film covered the gamut of sensitive topics, poking fun at Thailand “Lady Boys” (their words, not mine!) and the Gay/Lesbian community, among others.
– A plot point I didn’t understand (SPOILERS!!!!): The Bellas lost the private Sing-Off because Emily sings an original song & everyone is yelling at her that “Acapella doesn’t do originals, we’re supposed to do covers” etc…but then they (SPOILER!!!!) win Worlds, by singing the same original song…?!? Wha!? There’s no consistency, unless, the story writer was trying to imply that the world of Acapella was old school & the judges appreciated them trying something new…? This could be, but was not explained in the film. I’ve never experienced anything like that. I understand cheerleading is a different beast altogether, but we usually were penalized for doing “new” things, because the judges were typically older people that had been involved in the community for a long time. They didn’t like twerking and Top 40 songs, they preferred “Oldies” and moves that focused on technique. I don’t understand how something that was criticized earlier in the film, helps them win in the end with no explanation. Maybe I missed something…?

Final Thoughts & Rating:
As much as I don’t want to admit it, I’m capable of laughing at plenty of stuff that offends other people, but this film pushed too hard and it didn’t seem genuine or in line with the previous film. I’m fine with films like the Jackass series, you know they’re going to be offensive, you expect it. I did NOT expect this type of material from PP2. It seems like they can’t decide who their audience is. Pitch Perfect 1 was a nice, happy, girl power, family film, but PP2 did a complete 180 and distanced themselves from that. They were trying to be “hard/edgy” & have a Borat like set up where they wanted to offend as many people as humanly possible just to be “funny”. Overall, I thought this film was full of crass jokes that took aim at people who are different for cheap laughs. I loved the first Pitch Perfect because it was inclusive. It was a film about a group that often gets made fun of and their hard work goes unappreciated. A group of misfits that banded together to create a family. PP2 ruined all of that and was just another run of the mill, over the top, teen “comedy”.
My Rating: D

What do you think? Am I being too harsh or taking things too seriously? Did you like Pitch Perfect 2? Hopefully my review gave you some food for thought. I’d love to know what y’all thought of the film and my review! Please shoot me an email, or write me a comment down below! Thanks for reading 🙂

Movie Review!: Cinderella 2015

Promotional poster from Disney with my graphic add ons

Promotional poster from Disney with my graphic add ons

My childhood took place during a time in Entertainment known as “Disney’s Golden Age” or “Disney’s Renaissance”. I was raised on princesses and sing alongs. I saw Beauty and the Beast in a movie theater at least 30 times, according to my mother. For Halloween I have dressed up as Chip (the teacup from Beauty & the Beast), Belle, Ariel (The Little Mermaid) both mermaid and wedding version, Megara, Esmeralda, Pocahontas, Snow White, and Jasmine. I was an Annual Passholder to Disneyland and later, Disney California Adventure for many years. I completed 2 internships with the Disney College Program and worked at Disneyland for 2.5 years. To say that Disney is part of my life is an understatement. More recently, my love for Disney has waned somewhat as their prices go up and my bank account gets smaller (thanks, college education!), but I knew I wanted to see their live-action version of Cinderella ASAP!
Without further ado…here’s my Likes/Dislikes/Final Thoughts & Rating which contains SPOILERS! if you’ve never seen any version of Cinderella. Proceed with caution…

Likes:
– The cinematography/graphics/costumes/hair/makeup of the film are really beautiful. Disney’s huge financial resources were definitely put to good use. Supposedly one of Walt Disney’s favorite scenes of animation was Cinderella’s transformation & they definitely did it justice in this version.

– Disney is famous for controversy because a majority of their stories revolve around conventionally attractive Caucasian women waiting for a man to save them. This is a sticky issue for me because I understand they’re trying to be faithful to the original source material which in this case was written by Charles Perrault in 1697. Obviously in this time period society had certain rules & expectations. He could only write about what he knew. However, as a modern audience we know more and want to see films that reflect society as we know it. So I say to Disney, if we can believe that fairies exist and pumpkins can become carriages, give your audience some credit that we could suspend belief a little more to include other races & get rid of certain gender expectations, even if they don’t conform to society at the time the plot takes place. Also, there are other Cinderella stories throughout history, Perrault is not the only author, he’s not even the earliest author. Many cultures have their own version of Cinderella that fits their customs. These tales could have been blended together. Like I said, it’s a sticky issue everyone has a different opinion on. Getting back to the movie! I thought it was interesting that they tried to include other races through the inclusion of a African American/Black Captain of the Guards/best friend to the Prince and a Latina Princess that is engaged to the Prince. They also kind of changed the genders of Cinderella’s mice friends. As I recall, in the animated version there is Jaques, Gus Gus, and Suzy. In this version, there is Jacqueline and Gus Gus. She might have mentioned some other names but I didn’t catch them. My bottom line here is I appreciated their small attempt to include other races and use female characters – because let’s be real, they certainly didn’t have to & people still would’ve seen the film.

– There was a scene when Ella’s father is leaving for a business trip & asks Ella what gift she’d like. Her stepsisters ask for frivolous items, but Ella asks for a sentimental item. That scene is certainly not in the animated version, but perhaps is from the source material or another version. I like this because there is a similar plot point from an original version of Beauty and the Beast. I took it as a nod to Disney’s next live action fairy tale & my favorite Disney movie, so I was happy with that.

– I liked this version’s Prince Charming aka Prince Kit. He stood up for what he believed in and took charge of his own destiny. I appreciated the realistic relationship he had with his father.

– I appreciated the effort Disney put into creating a more in depth explanation for Lady Tremaine’s hatred for Ella. The message of the movie was obviously, “Have courage & be kind”, but also how love makes life beautiful and helps people be the best version of themselves. There was a scene where Ella confronts her stepmother and asks why she’s so cruel to her. She responds with something along the lines of “Because you are young, innocent, beautiful” etc. She trails off, and the implied rest of that sentence is “…and I’m not!” She was a very bitter woman and in another scene she explains why. Her first husband was the love of her life and she was completely destroyed by his death, not only emotionally, but financially. She touches on some of the societal expectations for a single women in that time period – she was basically required to marry again in order to keep her family alive. Her marriage to Ella’s father was a business decision – not a marriage for love. Marriage for love vs. marriage for advancement is a huge theme in this film & many other fairy tales. Imagine how hard her life must have been, to live every day grieving over the death of her husband plus have it constantly thrown in her face that her new husband and step-daughter would never give her the love she was missing because they were still grieving over Ella’s mother. Lady Tremaine lost love & lost herself. While I don’t condone the enslavement of your stepchild, learning a little more of her backstory made her a much more sympathetic character.

– I liked this version of Ella because she knew the way she was being treated was wrong. Eventually she stood up for herself somewhat, which was a vast improvement over animated Cinderella who didn’t really ever complain, if memory serves me right. I always felt that animated Cinderella was an airhead. She let her family push her around and she accepted it all with a smile & a song. I never felt like that made her brave or kind, I just thought she was dumb. At the end of the film when Prince Kit comes to take her away, Ella looks back at her stepmother as she’s leaving the house and with a little smirk says, “I forgive you” & that’s the last we see of the stepmother. In some versions of Cinderella, she totally forgives the family and marries them to Lords of the Kingdom. In other versions, Ella is not as forgiving and has them murdered. This ending was the perfect amount of polite sass, like, “Thanks for all the abuse! It put me on a path to marry the King who, in a twist of great fate, I’m genuinely in love with. Bye, have a great life!!”

Dislikes:
– Everyone kept hyping up Lady Tremaine’s laugh like it was spot on just like the animated film, but I’m not sure what they were listening to. It didn’t impress me.

– As mentioned above, I loved the extravagant costumes used throughout the film. HOWEVER, they needed to get the Captain of the Guards/Prince Kit’s best friend a bigger uniform. He was a big dude & every costume they stuck him in looked extremely unflattering and uncomfortable with his belly hanging out over the top of his pants. I felt bad for the actor.

– The dress tearing scene was really tame compared to what I remember from the animated film. That scene was a chance to really show the cruelty of the family towards Ella & it just fell flat.

– While I enjoyed the cast as a whole, Lily James (Ella) reminded me too much of Mia Wasikowska (Alice from Tim Burton’s “Alice in Wonderland”). I know that’s random & not necessarily a bad thing, it was just odd. She did a lot of heavy breathing, a lot of chest heaving breathing throughout the movie that was kind of distracting. I kept looking at her collarbones moving around. I’m a weird person. I know that, & I’m fine with it.

– One plot point didn’t get resolved for me. Many wonder why Ella didn’t just run away/move out. In this version, Ella explains that she didn’t want to leave her house because that’s where her parents lived and all her memories of them were there. However, she didn’t seem to care about that ONE BIT when Prince Kit came to take her away. They never addressed what happened to her beloved childhood home after she left and she never hesitates to leave it all behind. I would’ve liked at least one line between her and Kit, or maybe her Fairy Godmother, about how the house doesn’t hold the memories, her heart does.

Final Thoughts & Rating:
I really enjoyed this film. It’s the right mix of modern and classic. I don’t have a soft spot in my heart for the Cinderella story, so I won’t be rushing out to buy this, but I still thought it was a well made film.
My Rating: B+

What do you think? Did you see Cinderella 2015? Are you planning on seeing it this weekend? Please let me know in the comments below – thanks for reading!