Into the unknown: A Frozen 2 review

I tried my best to go into this movie with minimal expectations because that often gives me room to enjoy something without trying to live up to a hype I’ve created in my head. I loved Frozen when it first came out. I still enjoy Frozen, but it wasn’t enough to overtake any of my favorite movies of the past the way Moana eventually did. So I tried to keep my thoughts and excitement in check. I still managed to set a few expectations that I’m thankful were shattered in the best way possible. I promise to keep this as spoiler-free as possible because there is a lot of magic to behold in the unknown.

Frozen movie poster with Anna and Elsa in a frozen forest.

The story is unexpected and new, albeit still a little predictable as a 36-year-old life-long Disney lover. But not everything was predictable. There is a major event near the end of the film that felt SO RIGHT, but came SO UNEXPECTED. Disney storytelling truly hit this one out of the park. The movie weaves some seriously dark and emotional scenes with laugh-out-loud comic relief so seamlessly that you may be crying one minute and bellowing the next, completely engrossing yourself in this adventure.

The whole Frozen squad (Anna, Elsa, Kristoff, Olaf, and Sven) stare in awe into the unknown.
FROZEN 2 – In Walt Disney Animation Studios’ “Frozen 2, Elsa, Anna, Kristoff, Olaf and Sven journey far beyond the gates of Arendelle in search of answers. Featuring the voices of Idina Menzel, Kristen Bell, Jonathan Groff and Josh Gad, “Frozen 2” opens in U.S. theaters November 22. © 2019 Disney. All Rights Reserved.

Sven and his reindeer friends get a little more spotlight that I’m here for, as he’s one of my favorites from the original movie. And Kristoff is charming and adorable as ever. Both of the sisters travel on their own journeys of discovery, and they are beautiful and emotional as ever.

Anna and Olaf share an icy boat ride.
In Walt Disney Animation Studios’ “Frozen 2, Anna (voice of Kristen Bell) and Olaf (voice of Josh Gad) venture far from Arendelle in a dangerous but remarkable journey to help Elsa find answers about the past. From the Academy Award®-winning team—directors Jennifer Lee and Chris Buck, producer Peter Del Vecho and songwriters Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez, Walt Disney Animation Studios’ “Frozen 2” opens in U.S. theaters on Nov. 22, 2019. ©2019 Disney. All Rights Reserved.

The inclusion of the elements was something Brian was super interested in seeing, particularly in how they handled the lore behind the elements, and he was impressed. While they didn’t seem to pull each elemental representation from the same lore, they did use fitting mascots for each of the elements. My personal favorite is the fire salamander, who I will love forever. *lick*

Elsa sprinkles Bruni with snowflakes
BRUNI – Curious and cute, this salamander inhabits the Enchanted Forest. Though shy at first, Bruni can’t help but be drawn to Elsa’s icy magic and enjoys the cool snowflake treats she creates. From the Academy Award®-winning team—directors Jennifer Lee and Chris Buck, producer Peter Del Vecho and songwriters Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez—Walt Disney Animation Studios’ “Frozen 2” opens in U.S. theaters on Nov. 22, 2019. © 2019 Disney. All Rights Reserved.

The music was incredible. I also believe this soundtrack to be superior to the first, though much different. I have been playing Into the Unknown on a constant loop in my head. It’s beautiful and powerful. Kristoff and Sven have an EPIC song, and I literally could not stop laughing through the entire thing. And the lullaby from the queen is hauntingly beautiful.

Easter Eggs and Extras

You know I love catching a cameo easter egg, so make sure you’re paying attention to Anna and Elsa’s ice dolls in the very beginning or you might miss Baymax! And stay all the way to the end credits, because like the first movie, Frozen 2 has one, well, too!

Frozen 2 was an absolute delight. I can’t wait to see it again. We saw it in 2D IMAX the first time, and we’ll likely go see it again in 3D, because some of the imagery is so stunning, I’m dying to see what they can do with it in 3D. That being said, there are some scenes that were a bit dizzying, even in 2D, so be cautious if you are easily affected by 3D movies.

Hey! Did you know you can buy my book on Amazon? 37 women wrote about the struggle for perfection, and I'm one of 'em. Go check it out!

Maleficent: Mistress of Evil

I’ll be honest: I have only seen Maleficent once, five years ago, when it first came out and I reviewed it here on the blog. I’ve watched Sleeping Beauty a few times since, and I guess that means I didn’t love it as much as I thought I did. That didn’t stop my excitement for the sequel, though. Angelina Jolie really was made to play this iconic role, who I have loved since childhood. She toggles between venerable victim and vengeful villain beautifully.

Angelina Jolie captures the essence of Maleficent

Humans are mostly horrible. And Maleficent has every right to become the Mistress of Evil with no need for a redemption arc. That’s the primary message I took away from the movie that was more Lord of the Rings than Disney classic, but let’s start at the beginning.

The movie opens with a trio of nefarious men, creeping through the forest. It transitions from this human darkness to the vibrant and colorful Moors, where Maleficent has made Aurora a barefoot, wildflower queen of the fairies (her human status notwithstanding). Five years after the events of the first film, Prince Philip wishes to marry Aurora, and Maleficent still can’t stand him.

And then, his parents invite them to dinner. Amusing hijinks ensue as Maleficent prepares to meet the parents, even though Philip’s entire kingdom is still apparently terrified of her. In the first twenty-ish minutes of the movie, I laughed quite a few times.

Michelle Pfieffer is a fierce and unyielding Ingrith

Once we meet Ingrith, Philip’s scheming, diabolical mother, the movie transforms into an epic fantasy war with destruction, desecration of lands, and plots of full-on genocide. These scenes take their time, slowly laboring through motivation, miscommunication, and historical context. Michelle Pfieffer kills it (literally) as the evil queen with the saccharine disposition. One of the highlights for me was her secret lair entrance, where she has to break a mannequin’s neck to open sesame.

Aurora doubts her godmother the first chance she gets, which sends Maleficent packing, swearing off the child she practically raised, leaving Ingrith take the helm. Elle Fanning’s Aurora gives me pause to question why I love the character as much as I do, because she feels very wishy washy between the human and magical worlds and it’s difficult to read her emotions.

Ell Fanning’s Aurora doesn’t quite know where to stand

The final battle is brutal and long with a confusing resolution, and I’m still not sure what happened to some of the characters. If you don’t think about it too hard, it’s a perfectly lovely ending, complete with some “make it pink, make it blue” references. And I still wish the three fairies were more like their animated counterparts.

Overall, I liked it. But if I learned anything from the last Maleficent movie, it’s that I will probably not watch it again (at least for many years). Much like Lord of the Rings, it’s slow and dark, and I just want to fill my world with joy.

Maleficent: Mistress of Evil, starring Angelina Jolie, Michelle Pfieffer, and Elle Fanning opens in theaters Friday, October 18

I recommend the movie with caution. If you like Game of Thrones, Lord of the Rings, and other fantasy epics, you will probably enjoy this one. If you’re looking for something lighthearted and whimsical, you’ll be disappointed in nearly everything after the first 20 minutes. This movie has a PG rating, but I’m really glad I didn’t take my 8-year-old niece with me on this adventure. Because it is dark. So so so dark.

Are you excited to see Maleficent 2: Mistress of Evil? Have you seen it? What did you think? Let me know in the comments.

Hey! Did you know you can buy my book on Amazon? 37 women wrote about the struggle for perfection, and I'm one of 'em. Go check it out!

Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge in Walt Disney World

Woah.

Like literally. Woah. Joey Lawrence circa 1994 WOAH.

I gave you a sneak peek of our Galaxy’s Edge experience last week when I talked about my Star Wars Style, but this week I’m going to tell you everything I can about your first visit to Batuu.

If you didn’t already know, I’m a Walt Disney World annual passholder. And at some point in the last year, I managed to convert TBC3 over to passholder status as well. In this time, Disney announced they would be offering previews to passholders for the opening of Galaxy’s Edge. It was on a first-come, first-serve basis, so as soon as the email went out, I got on the site. I waited for what seemed like an eternity until the virtual queue took me to the registration page.

I couldn’t get reservations at Oga’s Cantina (but we have one coming in September!) or Savi’s workshop (I don’t expect that I would have been able to rationalize the $200 for a build-your-own-lightsaber experience anyways), but I did manage to snag us a preview slot which guaranteed a ride on the Millenium Falcon: Smuggler’s Run.

Tom and I decided that if we could score a cheap hotel and flight, we’d go. A $100 round trip flight on United and $100/night on-property resort meant that we were definitely going to Batuu.

We arrived in Orlando the morning of our preview, Magical Expressed to our hotel and checked in. We hit up the Magic Kingdom for Space Mountain, the People Mover, and a Mickey pretzel before heading to Hollywood Studios. Our reservation was for 5 PM, but we were waved through at about 4:30 with ease.

Immersive Experience

By far, my favorite thing about Galaxy’s Edge is the incredible amount of detail that went into every little piece of the land. From the epic infrastructure to the cast member back stories, I’m here for all of it.


When you walk into the land, you truly feel like you’re stepping onto another planet.

I love sassing stormtroopers in Galaxy's Edge

I love sassing stormtroopers in Galaxy’s Edge


My Galaxy’s Edge outfit choice definitely made an impact on the CM interactions that I got. Several characters came up to me while I was wearing the Chewbacca dress I received from TV Store Online and invited me to join the resistance. They knew a good wookie when they saw one.

But each cast member will tell you what planet they are from and give you a story if you let them. Ask questions. Talk about the land. See what little nuggets you can uncover. Spend time exploring and learning about Batuu, because the experience is what this world is all about.

Millenium Falcon: Smugglers Run

This attraction is amazing. We rode it three times so we could experience every role available. The queue is full of detail and story. Take in all of the visual artistry as you wait. Once you get into the attraction, there’s a short presentation with a mix of animatronics and video introducing you to the mission. Then you wall through a door and get assigned a role.


Our first time through, we waited 45 minutes and took the first thing they gave us: engineer. On our second ride, we waited 15 minutes and requested engineer. On our third ride, we, along with 50 other people, waited 0 minutes until we got to the assignment line and waited for pilot.


Then they usher you into an open waiting room, where you’re free to wander or lounge at the table until your team is called.


Our first two sets of pilots were awesome and the ride wasn’t too dizzying (I get vertigo). But when Tom and I took the helm, we (mostly me) were flying the ship all over the place. There was only one other person with us because of the aformentioned people waiting for pilot, and she had no idea what was going on, so we just laughed the entire time.


Even if you get a bad pilot (🙋🏼‍♀️🤷🏼‍♀️) or people who don’t know what they’re doing, you can still have fun. Sure it’s kind of a game with a score, but it’s also just a fun attraction. Enjoy it. Laugh more.

Food and drinks

We ate at Docking Bay 7 Food and Cargo, the quick-service spot with a dining hall. Tom had the kids’ fried endorian tip-yip (fried chicken with mac and cheese) and I had the kids’ yobshrimp noodle salad (shrimp and noodles with veggies). Yes, we order kids’ meals (which come with drinks btw) — it’s one of the ways we keep our spending down…or save money for dessert…

Kids' Yobshrimp noodle salad at Star Wars Galaxy's Edge

Kids’ Yobshrimp noodle salad at Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge


Both entrees were tasty, albeit simple. The shrimp and noodles was a very tiny portion, but perfect if you just want a taste (or you want to get dessert, which I did).

Oi Oi Puff at Star Wars Galaxy's Edge

Oi Oi Puff at Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge


The real stars of the meal were the desserts. I had the oi-oi puff (a raspberry filled cream puff topped with passion fruit mousse) and Tom had the Batuu-bon (chocolate cake with coffee flavored cream).

Batuu-bon at Star Wars Galaxy's Edge

Batuu-bon at Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge


The Batuu-bon was good, but the oi-oi puff will likely become one of my must-eats at WDW.

Ronto Roasters Menu at Star Wars Galaxy's Edge

Ronto Roasters Menu at Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge


At Docking Bay 7, you can also get roasted chicken, ribs, pot roast, and a plant-based meatloaf dealie. You can also grab a quick meal or snack at Ronto Roasters, a quick-service stand that serves wraps and jerky. And if you just want something light to munch on, Kat Saka’s Kettle offers colorful popcorn.



In the drinks department, you’ve got the Milk Stand, where you’ll find blue and green milk. Both are fruity and sweet. We liked both, but not enough to really order them again. We both agreed that green was the superior milk, though for me, there wasn’t a big gap. Blue is sweeter, like a Hawaiian punch and green is more citrusy, though I can see why people say it’s got a floral flavor. Neither can hold a flame to LeFou’s Brew or the new Red’s Revenge, which is where my money will be allocated.


And finally, there’s Oga’s Cantina, which we did not get to visit because there were no available reservations. I will update you in two weeks when we return for our advanced dining reservation!

Photo ops

There are so many incredible places to snap a photo, I don’t even know where to begin. The land is full of amazing backdrops and photopass photographers everywhere you turn.


There are magic shots with porgs (in the front of Galaxy’s Edge near the main entrance) and TIE fighters (near the First Order area).


And every photographer wants you to use the force in at least one photo.


If you’re a big fan of Memory Maker or Disney Photo Pass, Batuu is full of talent!

Shopping

So the other major thing you can do in Galaxy’s Edge is add to your merch collection. They have two interactive build-your-own shops: Savi’s Workshop takes reservations and will set you back a couple hundred dollars for a custom-made lightsaber and Droid Depot (which I believe also takes resos) will set you back about $100(+) for a customized droid. The plus is for add-ons like personality chips. The droids aren’t really designed to roll around the ground at Galaxy’s Edge,  so if you buy one and want the personality chip interaction with cast members, you should plan on carrying your new bundle of robot joy around the park.


There are LOTS of shopping opportunities in Galaxy’s Edge. A couple of walk-in stores and then a market of small shops, some selling beautiful robes and costumes, others selling toys, collectibles, and more. One of the best things I saw though was a shopping limit per person.

Merch at Star Wars Galaxy's Edge in Walt Disney World

Limit of one item per item per person on collectibles at Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge

Each person can purchase one of each item available. This keeps ebayers at bay at least a littld bit, which means limited edition merchandise won’t sell out super fast to resellers. Hallelujah! (I really don’t like when people buy something JUST to resell it right away for a huge uptick in price).

I managed to leave without spending a dime on merchandise, but your mileage may vary, so I wanted to let you know there are lots of really cool items for sale.

Are you excited for Galaxy’s Edge? What are you most looking forward to? When are you planning on visiting? Tell me everything in the comments.

Hey! Did you know you can buy my book on Amazon? 37 women wrote about the struggle for perfection, and I'm one of 'em. Go check it out!

What to wear to Galaxy’s Edge in Disney’s Hollywood Studios

Well, this week has been quite the whirlwind! Tom and I managed to snag tickets to the Walt Disney World annual passholder preview for Galaxy’s Edge, and I have a full trip report coming next week, so make sure you’re subscribed for email updates.

Today, I’m talking about Star Wars style at Disney. Because when you head to Batuu, you’ll definitely want to get into the jedi spirit. I don’t say this solely because I like playing with fashion and style, but because it is 100% part of the experience. The cast member interaction is incredible, and the right outfit can actually enhance the interaction to the point where cast members will start talking to you about the resistance and the first order.

Now, because this is a part of Disney World, you still have to follow Disney’s rules regarding what is and isn’t allowed. Costumes are only allowed for guests ages 14 and under, with the notable exception of Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party, a separate ticketed event in the Magic Kingdom. And while you can buy some pretty amazing-looking cloaks, robes, and fighter pilot costumes in Batuu, you can’t actually wear them in the parks.

With that in mind, there are still a few different types of looks you can choose if you want to get into the spirit of Galaxy’s Edge (and ideally secure some of those fun cast member interactions).

Graphic tees and Star Wars symbols

Obviously, a Star Wars graphic tee will always fit in and absolutely has its place in Galaxy’s Edge. You can also wear other Star Wars branded clothing, like skater dresses and skirts with one of the many symbols of the various alliances in the Star Wars ‘verse.

Chrissy wearing a Star Wars Dress in Magic Kingdom

You can probably see the R2D2 and C3P0, but can you spot all the rebel alliance symbols?

What about the armies of R2 units disguised as flowers?I thought about wearing this low-key HerUniverse skater dress (I did see other ladies wearing it in the park), but two in-park outfit changes was already stretching my 4-hour time budget, and I was really excited about the other two looks.

Costume-y skater dresses

One of my favorite ways around the no-costume rule is to wear a skater dress inspired by a character. You can find all sorts of fun cosplay-light looks that won’t break the bank or the Disney rules. My first outfit in Batuu was this AMAZING Chewbacca skater dress. I received this dress from my friends over at TV Store Online (who like to send me quirky things to wear to random events like Jury Duty and other epic places) in order to provide an honest opinion of it, and I absolutely love it! I considered getting the non-furry Chewbacca version of the skater dress, but then I remembered how extra I am, and if I was going to Batuu, I was going big.

Wearing a Chewbacca dress in Disney World Star Wars Galaxy's Edge

The cast member guarding this part of Batuu told me there was a top-secret resistance mission coming in December, and they could use someone like me to join their cause. I fully believe my Chewbacca dress was the reason she initiated the conversation.

So there I was, wearing a fur dress in August in Florida. Granted, it was after 4 PM, so the midday sun was fading, but it was still a toast position to be in. In fact another cast member walked up to me and told me, “Batuu has three moons…and three suns.” And then she looked at me like I was insane.

Chrissy in a Chewbacca dress in Star Wars Galaxy's Edge Batuu Disney World

Taking in all three suns

To be perfectly honest, gang, I had every intention of putting the dress on (which I did in the middle of Batuu over the neon green tank top and shorts I was wearing under my Buzz Lightyear Disneybound) and taking it off immediately after a few solid photo opps. But something surprising happened. I never overheated. I didn’t even feel that warm. There were fans blowing in the land, creating a nice breeze. The interior shops and spaces had A/C blowing, and I was keeping myself SUPER hydrated. I also refrained from drinking alcohol (a must for me when it’s as hot as Florida is in the summer).

Wearing a Chewbacca dress waiting to ride the Millenium Falcon

I felt right at home in the Millenium Falcon.

And so I spent two+ hours in the dress. We rode the Millenium Falcon, took lots of photos, had dinner, and wandered the shops. It was comfortable, looked AWESOME, and provided countless opportunities to engage with cast members. I also got a lot of compliments, which is always a confidence booster. I would have worn it the entire time if I wasn’t carrying around a backpack full of clothes, including a skirt I was super stoked about.A couple things to note about the dress: it is furry, so it does shed a little. It is also a little snug in the arms, so I recommend sizing up if you are able.

Disneybounding

The last look you can use, and my all-time favorite way to dress up in the parks and at home, is to Disneybound a character from the movies.I found the most perfect skirt while thrifting a few months back, and I knew it would be a perfect way to check out Batuu. I only had to find a character that would work. After much Googling, I came across the scene of Padme Amidala packing for Naboo. And I knew what I needed to find: a sparkly tank to wear under a black vest I already owned.

Senator Padme Amidala packing for Naboo dress in Attack of the Clones

I was super excited to put together my thrifted outfit once I found the perfect black and silver sequin top just days before leaving for Batuu.

It was comfortable, breezy and looked fun in Disney Photopass shots, but it didn’t get as much uninitiated interaction from cast members.

Are you excited for Galaxy’s Edge in Florida (or even California)? What would you wear to Batuu? Let me know in the comments below!

Hey! Did you know you can buy my book on Amazon? 37 women wrote about the struggle for perfection, and I'm one of 'em. Go check it out!

Our Disney adventure in ride photos

I’ve taken the liberty of downloading those bad boys from my last trip (with the indomitable Cletus, who also joined us for the Disney Wojcation in 2017) and placing them here for you to laugh at (or ridicule — either way, I’m going to assume you’re laughing with us…whether or not you are).

You can tell a lot about a person by the photos they take when they’re on a ride. Luckily, because I’m a Walt Disney World annual passholder, I get to keep and cherish all of the ride photos I’ve been on in the last year with Memory Maker.

Cletuses requested approval of any images that went into the video, and he agrees that these are some amazing photos (which is great, because I really didn’t want to have to edit each one with a Mickey Mouse emoji over his face). I have no contractual obligation to the other people in the pictures, so please, also enjoy the ones that made me laugh without their prior written approval. (If you are one of the people in these photos 1. I’m sorry and 2. I’m sorry).

When I was little, I used to count how many rides we got to go on in a day like it was a gigantic feat. Now with the Fast Pass system, Cletus and I are able to double the amount of rides we can get on in a day. And it made for some fun photo ops.

Chrissy and Cletus doing a pose on Expedition Everest
Yes, we rode all the big rides several times on a 5-day trip. We are masters of the Fast Pass+ system. One day, we’ll share our secrets. One day.

Without further ado, I present to you…

How to look awesome (or terrible) in Disney World ride photos

What do you like to do for ride photos (whether they’re at Disney, Six Flags, or another theme park with this option?)

Hey! Did you know you can buy my book on Amazon? 37 women wrote about the struggle for perfection, and I'm one of 'em. Go check it out!

A playful year of fun and magic

If you’ve been here for a while, you already know I’m not a fan of traditional New Year’s resolutions. A few years ago, I even came up with a monthly list of ways to dominate next year without a typical resolution, which I continually utilize as a guide for success.

Now a lot of people who don’t do traditional resolutions like to choose a grounding word that they use to guide them through the year. I’m not that type of girl. I’m more of a fly-by-the-seat-of-my-skirt gal, myself. Instead, I choose to label my year as it begins to play out or even at the end of the year. And this year was so perfect, you guys. I mean, not everything goes according to plan and things change and resolutions are hard to follow, but wrapping up your year with a bit of positive energy never hurt anyone.

And so I thought I’d tell you how I categorize my years.

In previous years, I’ve had The Experimental Year, a year of trying different stuff in the world of dating and boys, which was also the year that ended in a chance meeting with a handsome Irishman at a bar. I’ve had the Storytelling Year, in which I asked myself, “Will this make a good story in the morning?” and if the answer was yes, I did it, regardless of whether it was a “good” or “bad” idea. I’ve had good years and weird years and even bad years (like the Year I Didn’t Feel Good Enough; though I also came away smarter and more ready to tackle the world than ever before). And I always try to find the positive spin to the end of the year instead of wishing it away like just another fucking zit. (Side note: I hesitated in linking the aforementioned piece because there was a surprising amount of backlash to it. And that backlash made me want to stop writing, but I won’t self-censor any longer because that post wasn’t specifically about 2016. It was about every year.)

I take the biggest changes, most exciting adventures, and my highlight reel and try to find an underlying theme. This year started shaping itself before I even realized it was shaping. And it all started with a fake resolution.

I play games

At the beginning of this year, I thought I’d be cheeky and come up with a ridiculous New Year’s resolution. I made three. Two of which I’ll actually hit. 

  1. Play 365 games
  2. Play 100 DIFFERENT games (so that some of those 365 could be repeats)
  3. Play at least 25 different games that we own and have never played

Number one…that one is probably not going to happen. Unless we can play like 200 games in the next 3 days. Doubtful. But that’s okay. I had fun.

Number two…I have six more games to play. MUCH more doable.

Number three…DONE. Well, at least we made it through several of our untouched boxes (of course, we also bought a few new games…)

Silly resolution aside, gaming was a good start to a truly magical year.

I played in a Dominion Tournament at GenCon. I lost, but I had lots of fun!

I played in a Dominion Tournament at GenCon. I lost, but I had lots of fun!

I play with video

I’ve been dabbling with some different video styles on YouTube. I started a few things that could absolutely become the first of their own series (C-Rex Adventures, 60 Seconds of Chrissy), but we’ll have to see where 2019 takes us! It’s all in good fun which, for me, is super important. I can’t take myself too seriously, guys.

T-rex costume reaches for a ball at the bowling alley

I play dress up

In March, I took on something called The Disneybound Challenge. Every march, an Instagrammer/Blogger runs an Instagram photo challenge for people who DIsneybound (for those of you not in the know, this means dressing like Disney characters, something I apparently have a knack for. I nailed it for 31/31 days and continued to play dress up throughout the year (today, I’m wearing an outfit inspired by Moana’s Hei Hei).

This is a Disneybound of Olaf. The "buttons" are actually Olaf disney trading pins.

This is a Disneybound of Olaf. The “buttons” are actually Olaf disney trading pins.

I play pretend

In April, I began training at The Second City Training Center. In March, I’ll finish a year of improvisation and “graduate” from the A-E improv program at SCTC. Since August, I’ve performed in eleven shows (all student shows, but performances on Second City small stages nonetheless), with at least seven more shows before March comes to an end. When you’re improvising, you’re basically doing what small children do in free play — you make up stories. Sometimes you’re the mom. Sometimes you’re the baby. Sometimes you’re an accountant named Stan. But always, you should be having fun playing with your castmates and classmates.

Level D show photo from Second City Training Center Chicago

These crazy kids (a few of my SCTC loves are missing from this photo) give me life, you guys. This is one of the best things I’ve done for myself. And I’ve been saying that a lot lately.

I play house

Sometimes, I even pretend to be a grown up with my Grown Up. We have a really neat house that I have spent a lot of time in this year (thanks to the job quitting and the new puppy). I may make a terrible housewife, and I’m a horrible housekeeper, but I am good at playing house. You know. Pretending to be good at those things. On social media. And when we host parties. But definitely not in real life. There are rooms in my house where the clutter goes to die. I’m trying to fix that, but it’s a lot harder to get rid of clutter than I thought.

 

 

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I play with my hair

After years of planning and scheming, Kaitlyn and I finally took the plunge and dyed my hair hot pink. (Kaitlyn is my incredible stylist. She’s pure magic). We started with a super sweet gentle pink, and now it’s this hot pink, bold AF shade that I cannot get enough of. I’m never* looking back.

This poor man. I fangirled John Grogan so hard I cried. He is, though, one of the writers that made me want to be a writer, so I think a little obnoxious fangirling was to be expected.

This poor man. I fangirled John Grogan so hard I cried. He is, though, one of the writers that made me want to be a writer, so I think a little obnoxious fangirling was to be expected.

I play with puppysaurus rex

Adopting a puppy was one of the craziest things we did this year. Not only did this furball full of love and ENERGY enter our world, she dominated it. There is something magical about a creature that wakes up with the sun and says, “It’s time to play!” She naps when she’s tired and wants to play the other 77% of the day. This is a lifestyle I can get behind. Now if only her version of play was the same as mine. Unfortunately, two black lips and a few deep scratches later, we’ve learned the importance of training our sweet girl (but we always train with games and play and toys and treats instead of negative consequences. And boy does she love toys and treats! (I think I may have spent more on Nia’s Christmas than Brian’s…don’t tell Brian).

A sleeping puppy on your tummy is probably one of the greatest things ever.

A sleeping puppy on your tummy is probably one of the greatest things ever.

I play Disney (and that other park with Harry Potter [ and that OTHER park with Bugs Bunny])

After immersing myself so heavily in Disney Instagram, I became obsessed with needing to get back to the parks. I wanted to knock Dapper Day off my bucket list and asked my pal Laura if she wanted to go. When she said yes, I booked a hotel for November and started planning. When my cousin invited Brian and me to visit Universal Studios with him and his wife in October, it sealed a deal I made in my head. I was going to get an annual pass to Walt Disney World. (If you go more than once, the price of the pass is worth it (especially with added discounts and perks and such). I was lucky and able to use credit card points to reimburse my Disney pass purchase, so it was essentially “free” in my head, which makes it all the more logical. To me. And so I visited the happiest place on earth twice in a matter of two months, catching both the Halloween and Christmas seasons. And then…just for fun…because it’s close to home and the season pass was so cheap…we got season passes for Six Flags (Great America, but we can go to any of them with the pass). I guess I’m kind of a theme park addict…

Magic Kingdom Disney Photopass hub grass Cinderella Castle

Playing on the hub grass in front of Cinderella Castle seemed like a great idea.

And so with that, I give you Chrissy’s Year of Play. In which I truly embraced my inner child and let her help me find the joy I need to live this life and take the next steps on my journey. Being a creative is hard. Being an empath is FUCKING hard. Learning how to free yourself to determine your path? So hard. But so worth it. I honestly believe that my role in this world is to bring joy and laughter and share that light with you. And so when you see me behaving like a kid in a candy store with a light-up skirt and hot pink hair, remember that we all have a part to play. This is mine.

*I reserve the right to change my mind on the “never” at any time. 

If you could put a theme to your year, what would it be? What are your highlights from 2018?

Hey! Did you know you can buy my book on Amazon? 37 women wrote about the struggle for perfection, and I'm one of 'em. Go check it out!

Movie review: Mary Poppins Returns

Yesterday was a weird day wrapped in a magic bow. It started with a rehearsal for my newest Second City Training Center coached ensemble (yay!) followed by my car getting towed because apparently, my Spothero reservation didn’t go through (boo!). But it concluded with dinner and a movie next to the most adorable husband this side of the planet.

And not just any movie. A pre-screening of Mary Poppins Returns, a movie I’ve been dying to see since it was announced (especially once I discovered one of my favorite celebrity crushes, Lin-Manuel Miranda, would have a role similar to that of DIck Van Dyke in the original film). I’ve also loved Emily Blunt since The Devil Wears Prada. And then there’s Colin Firth. Who I’ve loved since I was fifteen, watching Pride and Prejudice on repeat.

Mary Poppins Poster Jack Lin-Manuel Miranda

I went into the theater with high expectations. I was hesitant to have such high expectations after the Nutcracker kinda flopped on me (I was initially drawn into the colors and music and potential messaging, but after thinking about it for far too long, I realized that the action in the plot did not back up the messaging and it wasn’t actually very good at all). Thankfully, I’ve slept on it, and I still absolutely loved Mary Poppins Returns.

Mary Poppins Returns movie review

THIS is the movie we need right now. The world is dark and gray, and Mary Poppins animates it with positivity and color and sheer energy to yet again save the day (and the Banks family). Emily Blunt plays Poppins in a way that makes me believe she’s always been Poppins (no disrespect to Julie Andrews intended because she, too, played the part practically perfect in every way). It’s like in Doctor Who, when a new doctor comes in and you truly feel like they’ve been the doctor all along. Like magic.

Emily Blunt is Mary Poppins in Disney’s MARY POPPINS RETURNS,  a sequel to the 1964 film MARY POPPINS, which takes audiences on an all-new adventure with the practically perfect nanny and the Banks family.

Emily Blunt is Mary Poppins in Disney’s MARY POPPINS RETURNS, a sequel to the 1964 film MARY POPPINS, which takes audiences on an all-new adventure with the practically perfect nanny and the Banks family.

We’re on the brink of adventure; don’t spoil it with too many questions.

-Mary Poppins

In Mary Poppins Returns, the Banks children are more responsible than their artist father who has taken a part-time job at his father’s former bank to help make ends meet during The Great Depression. Mary Poppins arrives just in time to help the entire Banks family (Jane is a regular visitor to Number 17 Cherry Tree Lane). With Jack the lamplighter as her childlike adult accomplice, Mary takes the three Banks children on quite the adventure. From a dazzling display inside a Royal Doulton bowl, using classic animation (which Disney hasn’t really used since Winnie the Pooh in 2011) as a nod to the original sequence inside the street chalk scene to an important meeting with Meryl Streep’s Topsy on the ceiling of her home, Mary teaches the new generation of Bankses how to have fun.

Emily Blunt is Mary Poppins and Lin-Manuel Miranda is Jack in Disney's MARY POPPINS RETURNS, a sequel to the 1964 MARY POPPINS,  which takes audiences on an entirely new adventure with the practically perfect nanny and the Banks family.

Emily Blunt is Mary Poppins and Lin-Manuel Miranda is Jack in Disney’s MARY POPPINS RETURNS, a sequel to the 1964 MARY POPPINS, which takes audiences on an entirely new adventure with the practically perfect nanny and the Banks family.

I loved the energy and imagination and pops of color that swirl throughout the film like paint on a canvas. The music is full of clever lyrics (and several that are full of much more adult-humor than one would expect, including a line about flapping about in bathtub gin). I was grinning like a Cheshire Cat, full of joy, and so many chills, you guys. If you need a little boost of magic this holiday season, let this be the movie that takes you there.

Jane (Emily Mortimer), Michael (Ben Whishaw), John (Nathanael Saleh) and Georgie (Joel Dawson) greet Mary Poppins (Emily Blunt) upon her return to the Banks' home in Disney's original musical MARY POPPINS RETURNS

Jane (Emily Mortimer), Michael (Ben Whishaw), John (Nathanael Saleh) and Georgie (Joel Dawson) greet Mary Poppins (Emily Blunt) upon her return to the Banks’ home in Disney’s original musical MARY POPPINS RETURNS

Lin-Manuel Miranda is there every step of the way, but the entire supporting cast is brilliant. Molly Weasley Julie Walters is the perfect casting for Ellen. Meryl Streep slays as Mary’s eccentric cousin (I wonder if any relation to Uncle Albert?). Colin Firth plays a duplicitous banker with sheer perfection. As for the Banks family? Emily Mortimer is such a perfect casting for Jane that I can see a resemblance to her 1964 childhood counterpart. Ben Whishaw is a wonderful combination of the child, Michael, and Mr. Banks from the original movie. The three children —Joel Dawson as Georgie, Pixie Davies as Annabel and Nathanael Saleh as John — are adorable and charming in their own rights.

Emily Blunt is Mary Poppins, Joel Dawson is Georgie, Pixie Davies is Annabel and Nathanael Saleh is John in Disney’s MARY POPPINS RETURNS, a sequel to the 1964 MARY POPPINS, which takes audiences on an entirely new adventure with the practically perfect nanny and the Banks family.

Mary Poppins easter eggs

The nods to the original are spectacular and come in every shape and size, including:

  • Dick Van Dyke’s incredible singing, dancing cameo
  • The return of the penguins
  • A passerby (UPDATE: this part was played by Karen Dotrice, the original Jane Banks!) stating, “Many thanks. Sincerely,” which is from the nanny advertisement that Jane and Michael write for their future nanny. No one else is picking up on this egg!
  • Admiral Boom still lives next door
  • Several sightings of the Sister Suffragette vote sash as the string on Michael’s kite
  • The blocks that Jane held, spelling out Mary Poppins
  • The snow globe from Feed the Birds

I found myself squeeing throughout the movie, and Brian often had no clue what I was noticing, so you really have to know your Mary Poppins to catch them all. I’m quite sure I missed as many as I caught, so once I’ve seen it a few more times, I’ll pass along the easter eggs.

Dick Van Dyke in Mary Poppins Returns

Are you planning to see Mary Poppins Returns? Have you seen it already? Let me know your thoughts!

In Disney’s Mary Poppins Returns, an all-new original musical and sequel, Mary Poppins is back to help the next generation of the Banks family find the joy and wonder missing in their lives following a personal loss. Emily Blunt stars as the practically-perfect nanny with unique magical skills who can turn any ordinary task into an unforgettable, fantastic adventure and Lin-Manuel Miranda plays her friend Jack, an optimistic street lamplighter who helps bring light—and life—to the streets of London. “Mary Poppins Returns” is directed by Rob Marshall. The screenplay is by David Magee and the screen story is by Magee & Rob Marshall & John DeLuca based upon the Mary Poppins Stories by PL Travers.

Mary Poppins Returns will be released in U.S. theaters on December 19, 2018. Get your tickets for Mary Poppins Returns.

Hey! Did you know you can buy my book on Amazon? 37 women wrote about the struggle for perfection, and I'm one of 'em. Go check it out!

Can we please see Wolverine the Musical?

I’ve been on a musicals kick. It has nothing everything to do with seeing Hamilton for the second time. I’ve graduated from listening to the Ham soundtrack on YouTube to listening to Hamilton radio on Pandora. You see, I was hoping for a nice roundup of Ham, Rent, Le Mis, Wicked, and all the other musicals that provide me with lyrical poetry to sing in the car on my hour-long drives into the city every week.

Empty Hamilton stage

Pandora, for the first time since my Britney radio channel (which has been properly curated to play all 90’s and all my favorite party pop tunes), got it right.

So I’ve been jamming out. And it wasn’t a surprise to anyone that I wanted to spend my weekend watching musicals when no one in our house got any sleep because Brian had a software release (he was up until like 4 am working on Friday night), the puppy’s schedule was outta whack, and Chrissy needed to wake up at 2 am and 6 am on Saturday in order to successfully acquire (apparently not one, but two) stuffed Mickey Mouses that she absolutely needed. </second person>

I came home on Saturday from my mall adventure to pick up the Mickey and couldn’t fall asleep. So I popped in The Greatest Showman. And then Moulin Rouge. The next day, I continued the magic with Les Mis. Brian caught bits and pieces and said, “The music is kind of dull. It all sounds the same. There’s very little variation.”

I mean…I guess he’s not wrong, but I felt the need to defend one of the most epic musical tragedies, which I did to little avail.

A few days later, I was playing The Other Side from The Greatest Showman because it’s in my head, and when a song is in my head, I just have to play it. Constantly.

Brian looked at me, “See, this song alone already has more melodies and variation than the other show.”

“It’s the same actor.”

“I know. It’s Wolverine.”

“OMG. Brian. BRIAN! We need Wolverine the Musical. We just need it. How do we get in touch with Hugh Jackman?!”

So then, ignoring my brilliant idea (one that rivals my Captain America vs. Harry Potter mashup, he pulls up Deadpool the Musical, and despite Brian swearing he’s shown this to me, I’ve never seen this magic before, and I’m SO here for it. And Deadpool the Musical 2, which is even better. And it’s like my idea was already a thing and I didn’t even know it.

So, I thought I would share it with you. Because Disney owns all the good shit now. And you know how I feel about Disney. And parodies.

Enjoy. (PS: NSFW)

The Wolverine cameo is in here, and it’s perfect.

But I still think Wolverine could have his very own musical. Don’t you agree?

Hey! Did you know you can buy my book on Amazon? 37 women wrote about the struggle for perfection, and I'm one of 'em. Go check it out!

Returning to the Hundred Acre Wood

“Your life is happening now, right in front of you.”

Sage advice from a grown-up Christopher Robin’s wife, Evelyn (played by Hayley Atwell), as she lectured the titular character of the newest tale from the Hundred Acre Wood.

Brian and I had the opportunity to check out a screening of Christopher Robin earlier this week and it was everything I wanted it to be. Charming and sweet with the nostalgia my generation of millennials craves with every piece of media we experience.

Winnie the Pooh Disneybound

Of course, I Disneybounded as Pooh for our movie date! I also convinced Brian to wear grey as if he were DIsneybounding Eeyore.

Let me back up. I grew up with Winnie the Pooh as a child, fostering a mild obsession through high school. I loved Pooh,  and the rest of the gang. Even today, when I visit Disney World, I find myself snuggling up to Tigger and Pooh and Eeyore as if they were my best friends in the whole world. There was something special in each of the fluffy friends that really resonated with me. I loved them. And I recognized the wisdom in their tales. Christopher Robin is not without the classic wisdom that its predecessors have provided.

The movie begins with Christopher Robin (played by Ewan McGregor) bidding his childhood friends farewell before going off to boarding school. A series of drawings and scenes carefully, but briefly, detail Robin’s life to now. And then we hit the present day: Christopher Robin has to choose between saving his job and saving his family. Of course, by saving his job, he can also save his family, right?

With a little help from his dear friend Pooh, who stumbles into London after losing all of his friends in the Hundred Acre Wood, Christopher remembers that doing nothing often leads to the very best something, and drops the stance picked up from his woozle of a boss (played by Mark Gatiss) that nothing comes from nothing.

I absolutely loved Christopher Robin. I thought it was light and charming, but full of a powerful message — one that really hit home, especially less than a week after finally piecing together my words about leaving my job and rediscovering my own childlike joy. The message of working to live instead of living to work isn’t hammered, either. It’s sweetly weaved throughout the movie, as Robin remembers what it’s like to be a kid again (to the benefit of his 8-year-old daughter, Madeline, who doesn’t know how to play).

Emotional Factor: I surprisingly didn’t tear up much (of course there were some moments, particular with slightly melancholy versions of the class Winnie the Pooh songs playing in the background) during this movie, but I sure did laugh.

Brian, my harsher Disney critic, enjoyed it without the nostalgia (he didn’t grow up with Pooh!) and thought “it was sweet.”

Be sure to stick around for the end credits scene featuring Richard M. Sherman and a few new songs from the Disney music legend (and if you don’t know who he is, I highly recommend watching The Boys: The Sherman Brothers’ Story, which is a truly incredible and fascinating documentary about Richard and his brother Robert).

What childhood memories do you have of Pooh and his friends? Are you planning to see Christopher Robin in the theaters?

CHRISTOPHER ROBIN is directed by Marc Forster from a screenplay by Alex Ross Perry and Allison Schroeder and a story by Perry based on characters created by A.A. Milne and E.H. Shepard. The producers are Brigham Taylor and Kristin Burr, with Renée Wolfe and Jeremy Johns serving as executive producers. The film stars Ewan McGregor as Christopher Robin; Hayley Atwell as his wife Evelyn; Bronte Carmichael as his daughter Madeline; and Mark Gatiss as Keith Winslow, Robin’s boss. The film also features the voices of: Jim Cummings as Winnie the Pooh and Tigger; Brad Garrett as Eeyore; Toby Jones as Owl; Nick Mohammed as Piglet; Peter Capaldi as Rabbit; and Sophie Okonedo as Kanga.

CHRISTOPHER ROBIN opens Friday, August 3 in theaters everywhere.

Hey! Did you know you can buy my book on Amazon? 37 women wrote about the struggle for perfection, and I'm one of 'em. Go check it out!

Adventure is out there!

Ya know, I’m not normally one for exclamation marks, but I’m about to embark on three weekend adventures in a row.  Tomorrow after work, I’m heading on a flight to Las Vegas to hang out with one of my besties and see the Backstreet Boys — who, apparently, I see every ten years-ish. I saw them in 1997 and 2008 (yeah, I know a little more than 10 years. Whatever. Close enough). And now, I’m going to see them in 2017 in Las Vegas. I wonder where I’ll catch them in 2027…

Chrissy falling out of her camp chair at the Backstreet Boys concert

This is the only photographic evidence I have of me at a BSB concert. And it’s because I fell out of my chair and my girlfriends thought it was funny.

Of course, I’m not entirely sure that I’m going to make it out of Las Vegas alive. Just last weekend, one of my other besties sent me a text sharing a link to an article about Legionnaires disease in Vegas. My mom had suggested I stay at the Rio, but I’m thrilled she helped me find a sweet deal on a room at Bally’s instead. Either way, I’ve decided that I’m just not going to shower while I’m there. You know…Just in case.

And that’s only the beginning of all the ways I could die in Las Vegas.

After a few cocktails, I have a tendency to wander off. On my own. And in a city like Vegas, I’m likely to get eaten by wolves. Or something. Maybe I’ll walk the plank on that pirate ship in Treasure Island…or get too excited near the Bellagio and fall in. The possibilities are endless. And terrifying. At my bachelorette party, I started talking to strangers with the promises of free shots. I’m not entirely sure that won’t happen in Vegas. Except, I won’t have a brood of lady friends protecting my ass. It’s me and my girlfriend against the world. And this is how we roll:

triple fisting cocktails

Why yes, we are both triple fisting the cocktails in 2006. And it’s entirely possible we’re at a strip club. Also, I really miss that strapless shirt.

The only other time was in Sin City was approximately a million and a half years ago when I was 17 with a bad haircut and couldn’t do anything fun. I was with my best friend and we wandered the hotels, shopped, and gossiped about life. But as an adult? I don’t know if my brain was designed for Vegas. There are so many bright and shiny things and lights and sparkles and OMG you guys I’m going to get so distracted, I’ll probably miss my flight home.

Chrissy at 17 with a vegas gondolier

At least I knew this gondolier was attractive when I was 17…

And I can’t miss my flight.

Because I’m coming home for approximately 46 hours to smooch my husband, throw dirty clothes down the laundry chute, and refill my suitcase for Orlando.

From there, I’m going to gently dabble in a little solo Disney adventure. I say gently because this shameless hussy sharing a room with me promised to meet me for an after-5 dinner date inside the Magic Kingdom.  The next day may include a little waterparking before heading into BlogHer17, my fourth BlogHer conference. Much hugging will ensue, and at that point, there will be plenty of friends with me to make sure I don’t get lost in the House of Mouse.

Chrissy and Mary Poppins Disney World

I’ll return for about 5 days, this time, with one final adventure on the horizon for Fourth of July weekend. 5 days in the cheese motherland of Wisconsin with the one I left behind two weekends in a row. But honestly, guys, don’t feel bad for Brian, abandoned though he might be. He eats this shit up. You mean days upon days in a row in which he doesn’t have to do ANYTHING but go to work? No peopling? No socializing? No incessant babbling? No Disney music? The man is going to be in heaven.

Me too, Brian. Me too.

What adventures are you heading for this summer? Anything sweet on the horizon? 

Want to follow my adventures? Make sure you’re following me on all the social media nonsense. 

Hey! Did you know you can buy my book on Amazon? 37 women wrote about the struggle for perfection, and I'm one of 'em. Go check it out!