Saturday, November 18, 2017

This Day in Pop Culture for November 18

Mickey Mouse was "born" on November 18, 1928.

Happy Birthday Mickey Mouse

Mickey Mouse made his first public debut on this day in 1928 at the Colony Theatre in New York with his appearance in Steamboat Willie. Today is also considered Mr. Mouse’s birthday. However this was actually Mickey’s third cartoon. His first was Plane Crazy followed by The Gallopin’ Gaucho. Both were silent films but Walt Disney had trouble finding a distributor. However, by the time Walt  was working on Steamboat Willie, the technology had changed and his studio was able to create the first sound cartoon. Contrary to popular belief, Disney did not animate the early versions of Mickey. That was the job of Ub Iwerks. However, Walt was the voice of the Mouse for many years, but his first words were not spoken until 1929’s The Karnival Kid where he uttered, “Hot dog!”

Friday, November 17, 2017

TobyMac Says 'Bring on the Holidays' - Video of the Day

 VIDEO OF THE DAY 

"Bring on the Holidays" music video by TobyMac

This Day in Pop Culture for November 17

President Richard Nixon gave his infamous "I am not a Crook" speech on November 17, 1973.

“I Am Not a Crook.”

The Nixon years were a tough time for our country and through the whole Watergate scandal, President Richard Nixon rejected the notion that he was responsible for any wrongdoing. On this day in 1973, he made the infamous speech on television where he said, "People have got to know whether or not their President is a crook. Well, I'm not a crook. I've earned everything I've got." In short order, more allegations were heaped on the president which he vowed to fight. However, one of the Watergate tapes proved that Nixon had been aware of the White House connection to Watergate and had plans to stifle the investigation. It became known as the “smoking gun tape.” On August 5, 1974, Nixon accepted blame for misleading the country. He resigned from office on August 9, 1974.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Finally, 'Justice League' is the Movie We've Been Waiting For

Movie Review of "Justice League"
Ben Affleck (Batman), Gal Godot (Wonder Woman), Ray Fisher (Cyborg), Ezra Miller (The Flash) and Jason Momoa (Aquaman) (Warner Bros.)

 MOVIE REVIEW 

The idea of building a movie franchise is easy. Creating one that works is a lot more difficult. Even for known properties. For instance, Universal has wanted to bring back their famous and classic movie monsters for years now, but their films, The Mummy reboot being the most recent, didn’t sit well with movie-goers. When Warner Bros. and DC Comics decided to not only reboot Batman and Superman, but also bring other DC Superheroes to the big screen for the first time, the idea was met with much enthusiasm. How hard could it be? Marvel has had great success with its Iron-Man, Captain America and Thor movies.

The first to come out of the gates was the Superman reboot, Man of Steel in 2013. Directed by Zack Snyder, this Superman was different from what many of us were expecting. While diehard fanboys loved the film, other casual comic book movie fans didn’t get it. This movie was much darker than any of the previous Superman movies. And despite how good Henry Cavill was in the role when allowed to emote, most of the time this version of Superman was super-moody and the overall tone of the story was super- serious voiding any joy whatsoever.

Movie Review of "Justice League"
Amy Adams as Lois Lane. (Warner Bros.)
Then came last year’s Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice which many were hoping would correct the errors made in the first film. And while there were rumors that Warner Bros. retooled it, the end product came off even worse. Even with the addition of Affleck as Batman which some fans said was the best part. Once again, the tone was still way too serious, the storyline was completely confusing and it just wasn't any fun.

Batman v Superman introduced Batman, but unlike Superman, he had already been on the scene in Gotham for about 20 years. And a rough 20 at that. This Bat had a huge chip on his shoulder while Superman seemed incredibly distant. Neither came across as likable in the least. In fact, one of the best features of these two comic book giants was seeing them operate in their duel lives as Bruce Wayne and Clark Kent, who are usually presented as nice, friendly and even humorous men. Here, they just came across as jerks. Even the entrance of Diane Prince/Wonder Woman didn’t help matters much.

Movie Review of "Justice League"
J.K. Simmons as Commissioner Gordon (Warner Bros.)
However, when Wonder Woman came out in her own standalone story last summer, the heroine was allowed to smile a bit more and overall, the film didn’t take itself too seriously. Much of that goes to the fish-out-of-water storyline with the princess operating outside of her own world, the comedic timing of Chris Pine’s Steve Trevor and the better storytelling under the direction of Patty Jenkins. Finally, it seemed as if DC had remembered how to make a fun superhero movie after all.

Though Justice League was directed by Zach Snyder once again, it appears that the third time is a charm (although he probably had a lot of help) as he carries on this new direction with a lighter tone, friendlier heroes and a film that was a joy to watch. Even Batman’s suit appears to be more a blueish grey instead of black. The introduction of new characters to the big screen (but not new to fans) include Aquaman, The Flash and Cyborg helped to form the Justice League were welcome additions and we finally got the movie we've been waiting for. Well, at least, more of us anyway.

This movie moves at a faster clip than the previous ones and doesn’t drag out as long as its predecessors. Each character is allowed to emulate the heroes we want to see and admire, despite the film’s potential to be downer given its sad theme. They spout off lines with more wit and humor than before and we finally get to see the fun side of these guys. At least, a little bit. Granted, each of these superheroes still carry a lot of baggage from their previous lives, but now they choose to focus on the greater good. No one likes a whiny superhero.

Movie Review of "Justice League"
Meeting Comissioner Gordon by the Bat-Signal. (Warner Bros.)
In case you’ve been living under a rock, Superman died in his last film. Justice League begins shortly after his death. Despite the fact that many people of earth wanted to rid the alien being from the earth (he just didn’t know his own strength) in the previous film, here he is mourned and the world is at a loss. Especially Lois Lane (Amy Adams) and his mother Martha (Diane Lane). Bruce Wayne/Batman (Ben Affleck) is suffering from guilt and persuades Dina Prince/Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot) to help him recruit some “super friends” who all have special abilities and could possibly work together to ward off the next evil attack. He has no reason to believe an attack will come - just a hunch. It takes a while, but the two are able to recruit Arthur Curry/Aquaman (Jason Momoa), Barry Allen/The Flash (Ezra Miller) and Victor Stone/Cyborg (Ray Fisher) to join their little club. And it’s a good thing that they did too since Steppenwolf and his team of parademons (giant vampire-ish flying insect creatures) are now ravaging the planet looking for three “mother boxes” which will help Steppenwolf destroy the planet as we know for no good reason. (So many super-villains want to destroy the planet without any good reason to do so. This is one of the film's weaker moments. The other is the fact that Lex Luthor is mentioned, but never shown.)

Without giving anything away, any true comic book fan knows the worst kept secret that lies in this movie. With that said, just go with it. You'll be glad you did. However, it also makes giving details about this movie difficult without spoiling.

One of the film's standouts is Miller's Flash. He's a bit goofy at times, but he brings a much-needed levity to this bunch. In a way, he is sort of like The Avengers franchise adding the young Spider-Man to their team. They are both young, immature and not jaded. J.K. Simmons also makes an appearance at Commissioner Gordon in a role that is way too short. Maybe they will be able to squeeze him in a few more scenes with the next one.

Enter to Win a Copy of Kutless' Latest!

 GIVEAWAY 

Who wouldn't like an early Christmas present? Take a few moments to enter to win a copy of Kutless's latest, Alpha/Omega below! You can earn three entries in no time!

Alpha / Omega is a refreshing mix of favorite songs that many of us sing in church every Sunday, but with Kutless’ signature sound. The album features both new original works and cover tracks from other artists with the goal of engaging “the Christian community and have the greatest impact” according to BEC Recordings. “The songs are true to who the band is at their core – rock and worship.” With that said, Kutless is very respectful to all of the music on the album. There are no guitar or drum solos – nothing to take you away from the purpose of the album.

Entry deadline is November 23, so do it now before you forget!

This Day in Pop Culture for November 16

New York Post was established on November 16, 1801.

The New York Post Publishes its First Paper

First published on this day in 1801, the New York Post it is one of the oldest newspapers in the U.S. It was founded by Alexander Hamilton, then known as the New York Evening Post. He was aided by co-investors, some who were members of the Federalist Party who opposed to President Thomas Jefferson and the rise in popularity of the Democratic-Republican Party. Fast Forward to 1976: Rupert Murdoch bought the Post when it was the only surviving afternoon daily in New York City and veered sharply to the right editorially. He also imported the tabloid journalism style of his other newspapers including the United Kingdom’s The Sun, which the newspaper still uses today.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Kutless Presents an Edgier Worship Album

Review of Kutless' "Alpha Omega"
Kutless (BEC Recordings)

 MUSIC REVIEW 

Most Christians would agree that praise and worship music is an important and vital part of any church service and many enjoy listening to worship music on their own as well. Unfortunately though, not all worship albums are created equal. To be blunt, some are dull where every song sounds the same or the artists/musicians have limited talent. While the messages are always good, the delivery is lacking.

Alpha / Omega is a refreshing mix of favorite songs that many of us sing in church every Sunday, but with Kutless’ signature sound. The album features both new original works and cover tracks from other artists with the goal of engaging “the Christian community and have the greatest impact” according to BEC Recordings. “The songs are true to who the band is at their core – rock and worship.” With that said, Kutless is very respectful to all of the music on the album. There are no guitar or drum solos – nothing to take you away from the purpose of the album.

Some cuts blend old hymns with new arrangements and choruses. While some purists will complain that the hymns are fine just on their own, these new songs make them more relatable. “Gave It All” borrows the verses from the classic hymn, “I Surrender All,” and sets them to new music. Then, they added a new chorus which helps to breathe new life and meaning into the song. At least for some. Kutless’ rendition of Hillsong’s “Cornerstone” does the same using the verses from the hymn “The Solid Rock.”

Music Review of "Alpha / Omega
While Alpha / Omega isn’t an album to “rock out” to, it is one that encourages the listener to sit and meditate or sing aloud to while driving to work (although closing one’s eyes and raising hands should be avoided). It is a true worship album, but one that is slightly edgier than what one would probably hear in church and for some, that is a welcome change.

Music Tracks Include:
1. Your Great Name
2. Strong Tower
3. King of My Heart
4. Cornerstone
5. You are Love
6. Great are You Lord
7. Your Love Awakens Me
8. Shepherd of My Soul
9. Gave it All
10. No Wonder

Paddington is Coming Back to Town - Video of the Day

 VIDEO OF THE DAY 

The first Paddington movie was a great surprise. Hopefully this sequel will be just as good.