Tuesday, October 6, 2015

30 Seconds Away

A week ago I saw the very poignant documentary, Thirty Seconds Away: Breaking the Cycle at is premiere at the Milwaukee Film Festival. I have been remiss in writing about it because I have had a hard time unpacking it and thinking about it critically--in a good way. The most concrete thing I can say about is that you need to see it. The film looks at the men caught up in a cycle of homelessness in Milwaukee County and their interaction with law enforcement and the criminal justice system.

Go see the final screening tonight at the Avalon in Bayview if you are in the Milwaukee area. Tickets are available here.

Watch the trailer and I urge you to go to the screening if you can. I'll try to make sense of my response to it, in the meantime.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Follow up: Date Night Shorts

Friday night Stephen and I made it to our Milwaukee Film Festival event after sampling some tacos and margaritas at BelAir Cantina. The theater was packed and we had to crane our necks from the first row, but it was worth it.

The first film of the seven was my favorite. Who's Up (Quis De Nous Deux) was in French, and lately one my great pleasures has been films and shows with subtitles. Although NBC has recently canceled it, I can't recommend enough Greg Poehler's show Welcome to Sweeden. There is something so fun about the interplay between the language, the subtitles and the delivery by the actors--especially if you have a hint of understanding of the language.

Anyway, back to Who's Up. The film playfully addresses first dates, attraction, and chemistry while constrained by the realities of budgets and who pays for what. As you might guess, the phrase "Who's Up" plays with who pays and when during a date. It was laugh out loud funny and charming, all at once.

Stephen's favorite was In the Clouds. The film explores the standard love narrative - which the film posits is a distinctly American desire - of wanting a grand, surprise proposal. Check out the trailer below.

My favorite part of the series of seven shorts was how quickly the whole showing went by. I learned  something interesting about the characters in a focused way, but I never grew bored. The only disappointment for me in the films were that they all featured hetero-normative relationships.

You can still see the set of shorts on September 30 and then again on October 2. Get your tickets here. You won't be sorry!

I apologize for this posts brevity. The Film Festival website was having a hard time when I was drafting, so I had a hard time finding more trailers and I wanted to get this out ASAP!

Thursday, September 24, 2015

The Milwaukee Film Festival

One of my favorite Milwaukee events is the Milwaukee Film Festival. This is my sixth fall living in Milwaukee, and I use the opening of the festival as a signal that summer has left. As I have experienced the festival nearly every year since, I believe it has gotten more inviting each year and it is not the be missed.

When I was a graduate student at UW-Milwaukee and new to the city, I learned of the festival in a class. I was encouraged to attend to experience class themes outside of the classroom texts. That first nudge created a tradition for me and my husband.

A year or two later, my husband and I saw Page One: Inside the New York Times. It is the reason why we always try to subscribe to a print newspaper, even if only for the Sunday edition. We were also introduced to David Carr, a journalist who has unfortunately passed away but whose story is very inspirational. For whatever reason, and despite mediocre critical reviews, the documentary is something we still talk about occasionally.

Every year the film festival seems to overlap with a crazy busy period of my life. This year is no exception. I am proud to say I have my tickets purchased for two films and I have several marked on the calendar if my schedule allows.

Aside from the films themselves, which are, of course, the stars of the show, I love the venues. When I first began attending the festival, I might have had to trek to Mequon and view a film at a multiplex (which I did, in a flash flood for Page One). This year six different neighborhood theaters are playing host to the festival. I find it is much more fun to see a movie at the Oriental, or my personal neighborhood favorite, The Downer.

First up on my film viewing agenda this year is a collection of seven short films categorized as Date Night. This will be my first time experiencing short films, and I am excited to engage in my own date night after a long week of work. Shorts: Date Night are showing two more times this festival, so I'll be sure to share my experience.

If you are reading from Milwaukee, I challenge you to try to squeeze in a least one film. You'll be hooked. All the information you need is here, or else pick up a booklet from Colectivo. For other inspiration, Jeremy Janene from Urban Milwaukee is planning to catch 33 films! If you live elsewhere, when is your local film festival?

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Cedar Rapids Lodge

Back in July Stephen and I headed out on a good ol' road trip to Tenstrike, Minnesota for a week at Cedar Rapids Lodge and some rest and relaxation.

We paused in the Twin Cities for some sushi time with my cousin, Colleen, before finishing the trek.
Colleen and I at the glamorous Mall of America
The week passed much too quickly. With potlucks, fish frys and a mother-in-law who loves to bake on vacation--I was never hungry. I basked in the sun and tried to read as much as I could. I also had nearly unlimited time with with my niece and nephews. Stephen organized countless games of baseball for the all the resort kids, we both snuggled our newest nephew, Walter, as much as possible, and enjoyed having the time to sit around and even take a few post-nap selfies.

Stephen, pitcher-extraordinaire

Post-nap waking up

All snuggles

I was able to visit with family and friends, many of whom I only see during this week every other year when we join Stephen's family on vacation.

After the rainiest day of vacation, we had this beautiful sunset

The upside of a day of downpours!
If you want to learn more about where we vacation every year, check out the nuts and bolts here or resort owner, Pat's blog here (also permanently linked on my blog). It's a wonderful place to vacation and make memories.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Picture Perfect Milwaukee Day

Summer in Milwaukee is absolutely the BEST. It is unbelievable that it is almost the 4th of July, which seems to always indicate the high point of summer.

Last Saturday was an absolutely glorious day and we packed a lot into it. After a nice 5 mile run through our favorite Lake Park we headed down to the lakefront with some coffee in hand to watch a rugby tournament and enjoy the day. Scenes like the one below make me want to buy a boat, regardless of how my stomach feels about the waves on Lake Michigan.

McKinley Marina

After our lakefront adventure, we spent some time relaxing by the pool. From there we headed out to dinner at Buckley's with our good friends Tom and Maria. We dined outside (huge win for Milwaukee) and I can safely say I had the best lobster roll of my life, if not in existence.

Then, for the grand finale we saw STEVIE WONDER in concert at Summerfest. Best, most relaxing, joyful concert ever.

Isn't he lovely?
Aside from this wonderful day, June has been lots of fun. We have done lots of celebrating as Stephen and Christopher turned 30. It was wonderful - they turned 30 and I got to see so many dear friends and family without turning 30.

We are hoping to travel more in July and August. In the meantime, we are trying to soak up summer in Milwaukee, all the while holding as many babies as we can--and we have quite a few in our life right now!

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Savannah Sue

On April 18 at 8 am, Ms. Savannah Sue came into the world weighing 6 lbs and 1 oz and 19.5" long. She caused quite a bit of excitement and changed our family. She is cute as a button and so sweet. She is a perfect niece.
Reading our first book together!
Congratulations to Aaron and Elizabeth!

Friday, February 27, 2015

Parks and Rec and Amy Poehler

You don't have to worry about a spoiler alert before reading on. I have not seen the final episode of Parks and Recreation. In fact, I have not even seen the final episode of Season 2...although that is coming up on my Friday night docket.

Until recently, I had not been very aware of Amy Poehler, aside from her generally existing on SNL. I was much more familiar with Tina Fey. I had read her book (and laughed out loud a lot) but I wasn't a fan of 30 Rock. I enjoyed the Fey/Poehler collaborations (Golden Globes, Baby Mama) but I never sought out Poehler's work. I dabbled in the occasional episode of Parks and Recreation when flipping channels but wasn't all that engaged. And then I listened to Poehler's Yes, Please on audiobook and I laughed and laughed and wanted to consume everything that Poehler had ever come in contact with. 

[As a side note, Poehler reads Yes, Please and brings in other voices, like Seth Meyers and her parents for a unique and engaging listening experience. Although I love reading a tactile book, this audiobook gave me an unparalleled experience. I know I got more from the audiobook than I would have from simply sitting down and reading.]

With all the hoopla surrounding the final season of Parks and Rec, Stephen and I decided to give the show a fresh try. Here are the top 3 reasons why I think Parks and Rec is a show worth watching:

1. It is an earnest endeavor. Leslie Knope truly wants to work in government and is willing to work hard. The show isn't cynical or snarky as a comedy and most importantly, it doesn't deliver the message that public service is a useless endeavor.

2. It is funny. I mean side splitting funny. The situations that these disparate characters find themselves in together makes for hilarious situation comedy. I am looking at you "Hunting Trip" episode.

3. It has a niche audience. I enjoy my fair share of shows for the masses: The  Big Bang Theory and How to Get Away with Murder, for example but Parks and Rec is not that show and it doesn't try to be that show. And I like that.

I will leave this clip here for your enjoyment. And if you don't think Parks and Recreation is for you, start and the beginning and give it a try. I have a feeling it is an acquired taste - it was for me.

Monday, February 2, 2015

Brown Girl Dreaming

The highlight of my weekend was powering through Jacqueline Woodson's Brown Girl Dreaming. I was excited to learn about its award status this morning. There are plenty of reviews and accolades online to further your interest, but I will say that the way poetry and the novel work together is a beautiful way to represent the experience of childhood. I loved every second I was reading this beautiful work.

Monday, January 26, 2015


A week ago (give or take a few hours), I was sitting in Jackson Square, eating a warm beignet, drinking an au lait, and blinking into a 67 degree sunny day.

Every day Stephen and I  were in New Orleans we enjoyed beignets. Jackson Square was the perfect way to consume beignets and the delicious po'boys. We weren't the only individuals with this idea. If you look behind me in the picture, you can see the piles of powder sugar dusting the ground.

I can best sum up our trip to New Orleans with the following words: eat, walk, sun, and museums.

Without reservation, I can recommend dining at Cochon (get a reservation weeks in advance), Atchafalya (Food Network Star's Chris is executive chef) and Commander's Palace (and unparalleled dining experience).

There are no shortages of museums in New Orleans. There are neat, smaller ones in the French Quarter on everything from the Battle of New Orleans to the lesser known fact that the first American pharmacy was in New Orleans. If you have several hours, take in The National World War II Museum. It is phenomenal and Smithsonian-like in it's scope.

My final recommendation, Buzz Nola and a bike tour. Stephen and I did the 3-hour long Southern Splendor tour and it was wonderful. I would have biked with our wonderful guide every day.

I hope to visit New Orleans again, there's so much food, music, and history to take in. However, I thoroughly enjoyed my 4 days of a nearly tropical (to this Wisconsinite) weather and sublime food and culture with my husband.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Hello, 2015! Watch this at 27 seconds in and you'll get my tone. If I ever make it to New Jersey, I know the first thing that I will say.

I am welcoming 2015 in on the heels of a crazy-hectic-wonderful-exhausting-draining-work overload of a December. Obviously, the holidays were the wonderful part. The work part--the most crazy I have ever had in my career. And now, with a small reprieve and hindsight, I can say they were fulfilling days. Hard, but fulfilling days. I definitely learned a lot about myself and my profession along the way. And even more importantly...

....I did get my Christmas tree up

...I did make puppy chow...TWICE

...and I did spend time with family!

Needless to say, Christmas 2014 will always be memorable.

I am going to try to continue to make this blog a scrapbook of my life. In late 2014, I did not follow through on that too well, but I did create a stop-gap for poor blogging follow-through. I discovered Instagram as a nice way of keeping track of some of my favorite activities so feel free to find @megengscunningham.

Other resolutions include continuing to document my food and fitness choices each day. It helped me to stay healthy in 2014. I am also looking forward to being more deliberate with my time. Stephen and I did this well by choosing new restaurants and activities to do together. In 2015, this will also mean not checking our phones while watching a show together, choosing when to have screen time, etc. And finally, for practicality, every Monday will include 10 minutes of cleaning as much as I can (thanks, Real Simple).

As I hope to be a more active blogger, please let me know if there is something you would like to see more of.. A little structure never hurt anybody. And in the meantime, stay warm and say hello to 2015!