Toy Story 3


Look, long story short - if you liked Toy Story 1 and 2, you owe it to yourself to see Toy Story 3. It did not disappoint. But there's more to it... this movie really shaped how I view the entire trilogy. Maybe it's because I'm old enough now to evaluate things this way. Or maybe it's because it wasn't until this storyline that everything COULD click the way it did. To be honest, it's probably a bit of both.

If you're just curious about if I enjoyed my last couple of hours in the theater, the answer is a definite yes. Find a time to go, and enjoy yet another good Pixar film.

But if you want to know more about WHY this movie was so good, then read ahead. (Note: I'm not going to talk about any key details of the movie, and I don't think there are really any spoilers in here, but if you want to see the movie with a totally clean slate, then maybe come back and read this after you've seen it.)

The first Toy Story was released in November of 1995 - I was only seven years old at the time. I remember being totally taken in by the idea that toys were having their own adventures when I wasn't there, and I'm sure that while I was watching it in theaters, a part of my mind wondered what all my LEGO figurines were up to back home (maybe starting a band?). It was a movie with heart, and the characters were so human, despite being toys.

Fast-forward 4 years, and I'm in the theater to see Toy Story 2. I'm 11 years old, but by this point, I've come to learn that when good animated movies get sequels, they usually aren't as good. So I was excited to get caught up with the toys again, but also apprehensive. But Toy Story 2 was every bit as good as the first. It was goofy, didn't take itself too seriously, yet still managed to pull at the heartstrings. It really built on the theme of friendship that the first one established - both a friendship between the toys (and one that grows to include the new toys, at that), and the bond between Andy and his toys. Maybe not a friendship in a traditional sense, but there was a mutual need between both parties for one another.

And now, TEN years later, Pixar comes out with Toy Story 3. At this point, Pixar has a track record - they make GOOD movies. And being SO far removed from the first 2, you know it isn't Pixar trying to milk a franchise while it's hot. No, this is Pixar going to back to their toys, to their beginning (Toy Story was their first movie, after all), and giving it one last hurrah before retiring it.

I'm not entirely sure if younger kids will fully appreciate the movie. Part of what makes it so good is that it HAS been 10 years - we, as viewers, have grown up, we have new toys to play with, and we'd kind of forgotten about Toy Story. We, as viewers (those who grew up with this series, at least), parallel the character of Andy. And it's fitting that he plays a slightly more prominent role in this film. Still not major, but one of the most powerful scenes in the entire movie centers on him, and his relationship with the toys.

This was a movie about growing up, and moving on. About dealing with the loss of (or at least, separation from) old friends. And it was handled very well. As somebody who just graduated from college, and is facing the need to grow up and move on some more, the movie really hit home. It isn't a movie about toys - it's a movie about friends, and about life coming full circle.

Toy Story 3 elevates the entire series from a goofy little story about toys and friendship to a heartfelt look at friendship and growing up. It takes the two very good movies before it, and makes all three of them (when taken as a whole) into a powerful, very grown-up story, while still staying true to the signature goofiness.

The Toy Story trilogy, I think, needs to be considered as one of the top movie trilogies of all time - THAT'S how good this movie was.

So go see it. Embrace your childhood as you enter the theater, but be ready to grow up over the course of the 103 minute runtime. That's what Toy Story did; it grew up in this movie. And it takes you along for the ride.

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Summer Time


And the living's busy. Now that I've graduated, and moved out of my home of three years (miss you Dykstra!), it's time to start focusing on the future. I still have 2 classes to finish up with, and I'm living on campus until September, so this summer is going to serve as a kind of transitional period for me. I think that'll be good though, and I'm excited for it. I have three main goals for this summer, and ideally, these will carry on into my "adult life" after the summer:

1. Reduce Clutter - As I discovered in the moving process on Sunday, I have a LOT of stuff. I definitely don't need it all, so I'm going to make an effort to reduce that significantly, and better organize the stuff I do keep. This applies not only to physical stuff, but digital stuff - cleaning out & organizing photos and such. I need to do a good job of this on the stuff I already have, and then make sure I maintain it as I acquire new stuff (by actually getting rid of stuff when I get new things).

2. Live Healthier - This is an intentionally broad category. It's not enough to just eat better (and I already eat farily well for the most part). I could become obsessed with counting calories, and becoming a slave to nutrition fact sheets, but that kind of obsession isn't very healthy mentally or emotionally. This is a total lifestyle goal - eat better, exercise more regularly, and keep myself mentally and emotionally fresh. The first two are easier to figure out how to do, but the third is going to be tougher. Hopefully, not having a 24-hour responsibility for over 100 people will help me get some more "me time". As for how I'll use that time...

3. Embrace/Engage Arts - I'm not a very skilled artist/writer/musician/etc, and this is something I came to terms with long ago. That said, I still enjoy to at least experiment with them, and engage myself in artistic endeavors. I hope to use some of my extra time to focus on things of this nature, and I'm hoping it'll prove helpful in regards to point #2.

Last summer, I found it very relaxing to just write short stories as they came to me, the result of which is One-Eyed Cowboy (also featuring a drawing of mine). I hope to add to that some more, and work on some drawings/paintings to add to my Flickr. I'm also already planning some photo days with Ben, which will hopefully result in some nice photography stuff. The one other thing I did was have my parents bring my keyboard up, so hopefully I can learn some basics and songs. And if I get inspired to work on non-artsy projects, I'm going to do those as well.

The important thing is that I'm not going to FORCE any of this; I want to go for it when inspiration strikes, and just enjoy it. Becoming obsessed with doing something just for the sake of doing it isn't going to help with my healthier lifestyle goal.

Separate from these goals (though I guess tangentially related), I'm going to update this blog more. I kind of fell off for a bit, with school, work, friends, and everything else. This blog has always been written primarily for me, so I don't feel bad about lack of updates, but I hope that more regular updates becomes part of everything going forward. As I work on (and hit) some of the above goals, I'll definitely have stuff to talk about.

Happy summer everybody!

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Two Pictures


If I had to sum up my four years at UCLA in just two pictures, and really capture why the leaving process is so emotional, it would be the following two pictures. The first was found in my lounge one day, and the second was taken by one of my fellow RAs prior to our team closing activity. Both capture the essence of what I love about UCLA:

I'm at peace with the fast-approaching end, but I do hope my future will have options to experience these emotions again.

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