Friday, June 29, 2012

Elizabeth Banks Does it Again in People Like Us


Chris Pines, Elizabeth Banks and Michael Hall D'Addario
star in "People Like Us." Photo: Touchstone/Dreamworks

Elizabeth Banks has had quite a year so far. She played opposite Sam Worthington who played, “A Man on a Ledge,” the fluffy Effie Triket in “The Hunger Games,” a woman who knows everything about having a baby without ever having one in “What to Expect When You’re Expecting,” and now Frankie, the a woman who discovers she has a brother after her father dies in “People Like Us.” Is there anything this woman can’t do?

“People Like us” begins with Sam (Chris Pines), a shady salesman who is estranged from his parents Things are not going well for him at work when hears the news that his father passes away suddenly. Unmoved, Sam’s next thought is “What is for dinner?” Sam and his girlfriend Hannah (Olivia Wilde), travel back home to be with his mother Lillian (Michelle Pfeiffer) who is none too pleased that he missed the funeral. Sam fully intends this to be a short trip, but an attorney contacts him and gives him a shaving bag that his father wanted him to have. In the bag sits $150,000 and a note asking him to give the money to a man named “Josh” and an address. After some investigating, Sam discovers that the man is actually a boy (Michael Hall D’Addario) and Josh’s mother is Sam’s half-sister that he never met. Tempted to keep the money for himself and to avoid the awkwardness of introducing himself to Frankie (Banks), Sam decides to wade slowly into the troubling waters instead. Sam makes the situation more difficult that he needs to by not being honest with his girlfriend, his mother, Frankie and his employer.

“People Like Us” was written and directed by Alex Kurtzman and built partially from his own life. Kurtzman met his own half-sister when he turned 30. It is a wonderful movie with an intriguing storyline. The acting is excellent and believable. Its greatest strength is showing how three troubled people get their lives back on track. Sam grew up with a terrible father. Frankie grew up wanting a father. Ironically, Frankie had a child out of wedlock and doesn’t know who Josh’s father is, so Josh is in the same boat. The movie details in a real way just how important a father is to his children. Without meaning to, both Sam and Frankie grew up reckless, just like their dad. Now, they want to make their lives matter but they aren’t quite sure how. Though not intentional, the story also gives an example of sins of the father being passed down to the next generation, but this generation wants to make them stop here.

Despite the fact that all of the actors featured in “People Like Us” are beautiful, the story comes off realistic. It is impressive that Michelle Pfeiffer can look beautiful and yet haggard at the same time. Pfeifer isn’t afraid to show a few wrinkles and though it is completely plausible that she is old enough to be Pine’s mother, it is hard to believe. Wilde comes off completely charming and definitely too good for Sam.

Perhaps the only real negative in “People Like Us” is a scene of marijuana use that looks like it is trying to make a political statement more than a part of the story. All in all, this is movie with great characters with real problems and hopeful solutions. (Originally posted on Examiner.com)


Thursday, June 28, 2012

New Images of “Frankenweenie” Recently Released


New images from the upcoming
"Frankenweenie." Photos: Disne
y

Imagine a heart-warming story about a boy and his dog. Now imagine that same story imagined by Director Tim Burton. Burton, the mastermind of “The Nightmare before Christmas” and “Alice in Wonderland” finally gets to present this tale the way he’s always envisioned it this fall.

Originally, Burton wanted to create “Frankenweenie” as a full-length, stop-motion animated film, but due to budget woes, he instead settled for a live-action short he created for Disney in 1984. At the time, Disney fired Burton for wasting money and creating a short that was too scary for children, the intended audience. Though the short was seen oversees, it wasn’t until 1994 that American audiences received an invitation to see the flick via VHS. Ironically, the very same studio recently green lit Burton’s original vision to be seen in theaters October 5.

Disney describes the new movie this way: “After unexpectedly losing his beloved dog Sparky, young Victor Frankenstein (Charlie Than) harnesses the power of science to bring his best friend back to life—with just a few minor adjustments. He tries to hide his home-sewn creation, but when Sparky gets out, Victor’s fellow students, teachers and the entire town all learn that getting a new “leash on life” can be monstrous.” The film features the voices of Martin Landau, Martin Short, Winona Ryder, Christopher Lee, and Catherine O’Hara.

Recently, new pictures of the new flick have been released and the trailer is featured on this page as well. Tim Burton is one of those directors that you never know what you're going to get until you see it. Some of his flicks have been horrible and others have been quite charming with nice moral messages attached. At any rate, this is one to keep your eye on.
 (Originally posted on Examiner.com)


Wednesday, June 27, 2012

ABC’s Final Witness Begins with a Surprising Story


ABC's "Final Witness" debuts tonight (with a surprisingly
uplifting ending) tonight at 10 p.m.

ABC’s new summer show, “Final  Witness,” is based on the concept of “What if a murder victim could tell you about their final moments?” The show is unique in that they will tell a tale from start to finish, using a mix of documentary and dramatization from the victim’s point of view. The initial run for the series is only seven episodes, but it is the first that may be the most compelling.

“The Caffey Family” is about the horrendous events that happened in 2008 when intruders entered the home of Terry and Penny Caffey. They killed Penny, wounded Terry and killed his two young sons. Fortunately, his teenage daughter was unhurt. But just when he thought it couldn’t get any worse, it did. One of the accomplices in the attack was his own daughter.

At first, that doesn’t sound very edifying, does it? But here is the good news: Through this terrible experience, Terry was able to forgive his daughter and  the other intruders . He has even wrote about book about the ordeal titled, “Terror by Night: The True Story of the Brutal Texas Murder That Destroyed a Family, Restored One Man's Faith, and Shocked a Nation.” The book tells how Terry was able to find peace though this tragedy with God’s help. Tonight’s episode promises to air some of Terry’s testimony and road to forgiveness.

Final Witness” airs at 10:00 p.m. on ABC tonight. (Originally posted on Examiner.com)


Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Seattle Play has More than One Slight Hitch


Seattle ACT (A Contemporary Theatre) is currently presenting the regional premier of Lewis Black’s “One Slight Hitch,” a play about family in crisis…and a wedding. At first, this play looks like it has everything going for it:
  • -     The HUGE set is beautifully done with wallpaper, couches with pillows that match the wallpaper, hard wood floors, and a staircase with a banister making you, the audience, feel right at home.
  • -     The play itself is from a contributor to Comedy Central’s “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart” where he normally writes about humor in politics.
  • -     R. Hamilton Wright and Marianne Owen make a winning combination of Mr. and Mrs. Coleman, the parents of the bride.

 Unfortunately, this play has more than just one slight hitch working against it.

Katherine Grant-Suttie, Marianne Owen, Kimberley Sustad,
Kirsten Potter, and R. Hamilton Wright. Photo by Chris Bennion
The story is simple enough, Delia Coleman (Owen) wants to give her daughter Courtney (Kimberley Sustad) the dream wedding that she never had. Doc Coleman (Wright), the long suffering husband of three daughters, goes along for the ride. Up until the wedding day, everything has been going to plan, until Ryan (Shawn Telford), Courtney’s ex-boyfriend shows up on a whim. Melanie, Courtney’s older sister (Kirsten Potter), tries to stir up the pot suggesting that perhaps Courtney still has feelings for Ryan and P. B. Coleman (Katherine Grant Suttie), Courtney’s younger sister, is trying to keep the whole family calm. Finally, there is Harper (John Ulman), the perfect groom in for a surprise.

“Hitch” has all the makings of good comedy and is definitely a pleasant play, but it falls flat in a few spots. Most of the blame should be put on the writing. Black’s humor doesn’t translate well to the stage. The script is full of one-liners and occasionally, his political humor side shows through, but it doesn’t fit in this story. With the exception of Mom and Dad, all of the characters in the play are caricatures and are often annoying rather than endearing. Telford is a good actress, but as the blushing bride, she isn’t given much material to cause the audience to root for her.

The play is also missing conflict and feels unfinished. Characters run around the stage stressed out with hardly any reason to be. Ryan, the clueless ex, should be a threat of some kind, but instead he is just in the way. A potential scene of comedy with the future in-laws is totally scrapped for some reason. For such a big stage, it is a shame that much of the area isn’t used.

“Hitch” could have been a mad cap romp, and perhaps with more revisions it can be. However, it is almost worth the price of admission to see the antics of Wright and Owen and fortunately, it ends a very nice and touching note.

“One Slight Hitch” is directed by Joe Grifasi and is being presented at the ACT Theatre, located at 700 Union Street in downtown Seattle. Tickets range from $37.50-$55 with discounts for students and seniors. The play continues through July 8 and tickets can be purchased online or by calling 206.292.7676. (Originally posted on Examiner.com)

Monday, June 25, 2012

Jesus Hopped the A Train is a Real Experience


Azeotrope presents "Jesus Hopped the A Train" at the
ACT Theatre in Seattle. (It's not about a train!)

You enter a dark room with nothing more than a table and two chairs. The walls are black and are lined with metal fencing. People smoke cigarettes without caring if you are seated there or not. Foul language abounds. Where are you? You are seated in the Eulalie Scandiuzzi Space at ACT (A Contemporary Theatre) in Seattle watching, no, experiencing the Northwest premiere of “Jesus Hopped the A Train.”

“Jesus” is different than other plays. Instead of just watching, the actors are so close to you, you feel like you are in the same room as them – which you are. The Eulalie Scandiuzzi Space is not a big space. As the actors look around the room, they have the uncanny ability to look straight through you, something you don’t get in larger theatres. It isn’t quite claustrophobic, but you do feel like you’re sitting in on someone else’s conversations.

Angel tries to pray.
Photos by:Jessica Martin
  
Written by Stephen Adly Guirgis directed by Desdemona Chiang, “Jesus” is a play that makes you think about life, death and salvation. It centers mostly on two characters: Angel Cruz (Richard Nguyen Sloniker) and Lucius Jenkins (Dumi) both serving time in Riker’s Island in Manhattan. Angel is there because he shot a leader of a religious cult, in the buttocks, in an attempt to save a friend sucked in by his lies. Lucius had killed eight people. Did I mention that this isn’t a comedy?

Since being sent to Riker’s, Lucius has become a Christian, believing that his sins have been forgiven. Angel on the other hand, also believing in a higher power tends to blame his actions on others and believes himself to be a better man because he only shot one.

Mary Jane Hanharan meet with
her client.
The play opens with Angel on his face trying to recite The Lord’s Prayer, but he can’t remember the word “hallowed.” He is “escorted” by a bullying guard, Valdez (Ray Tagavilla) to meet with his attorney, Mary Jane Hanharan (Angela Dimarco) who desperately wants to help him even if it means to bend the rules. Tagavilla’s performance is truly terrifying at times. The last character to complete this circle is Charlie D’Amico (Patrick Allcorn), who is not only fascinated by Lucius, he’s a fan. He brings him homemade treats made from his wife.

Lucius Jenkins gets threatened
by Valdez the guard.
Overall, this is one mesmerizing play with an open ending and will challenge your own faith. It feels very real and each character is spot on in their delivery of lines. Each character has a monologue to share about their character, but unfortunately, is the most uninteresting part of the production.

This is not a play for everybody as it doesn’t share any easy answers is very vulgar at times and if you have recently quit smoking, it will do you no favors. Still, if you want to experience theatre up close and personal – perhaps too personal – this one is for you.

“Jesus Jumped the A Train” continues for one more weekend, June 28-June 30. Performance times are 7:30 p.m. each night and 2:00 p.m. Saturday afternoon. Tickets range from $25-$30 and may be purchased over the phone by calling 206.292.7676 or online.  The play is presented in the Eulalie Scandiuzzi Space located in the ACT Theatre. It is at 700 Union Street in Downtown Seattle. (Originally posted on Examiner.com)

Friday, June 22, 2012

Brave Offers Up a Pro-family, Values-Based Story


Photo: Disney/Pixar

Pixar is back on top where they belong with “Brave,” the tale of Princess Merida who is determined to make her own path in life. This Scottish-themed story is not your usual Disney princess story. In fact, there isn’t even a love interest for the girl. The movie is also quite different from other Pixar films as well. It is has a feel closer to “Up” rather than, say, “Cars.” It is funny, thrilling and sweet. As a bonus, there is a huge twist in the middle of the story which will really keep you guessing on how the story is going to end.

Merida (Kelly Macdonad) is a head-strong princess who begins to butt heads with her mother, Queen Elinor (Emma Thompson) in her teenage years. Elinor just wants her daughter to act like a lady, but Merida would rather ride her horse through the woods and shoot targets with her bow and arrow. At the same time, her father Fergus (Billy Connolly) is hosting an age-old custom with three Lords of the land. Each brings with them a son who is eager to win the hand of the princess. Merida sets out to defy the ritual games and causes a uproar in the process.

“Brave” is a beautiful film to look at and refreshing to watch. It features an imperfect royal family: The big strong warrior father, the uptight, “everything must be just so” mother, three unruly younger brothers and a tomboy of an older sister.

The Pixar team has created sophistication out of a simple story. Yes, there is action and adventure, but when you boil it down, it is really a story about a mother and daughter. And this isn’t just a movie for girls. Boys will love it too – really. The film plays out differently than what it looks like in the trailers. Merida does have to be brave in this story, but not in the way you would think. Here is a mini-spoiler: she has to be brave enough to admit that she was prideful and did something that was wrong. It gives an extra dose of realism to the fictional story and something many parents will be happy about. Though "Brave" isn't a "Christian" story, it can help provide plenty of conversation starters on your ride home. 

“Brave” does have some scary moments, so be careful about bringing very little ones. Though there is witch and magic featured in the film, it is downplayed for the most part and can be treated as an allergory when talking to your children, much like C.S. Lewis' "The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe."


World of Pop Goes to the Movies!

World of Pop radio show will be presenting its first event next month with a showing of the movie, "Blue Like Jazz" at the AMC Loews Theater located at the Alderwood Mall in Lynnwood, Wa. We'll feature a special Q and A afterward to discuss this film as well as Christian films in general. Let your voice be heard! Also, sign up to win a prize pack from World of Pop.


"Blue Like Jazz" is a faith-based film about Don, a nineteen-year-old sophomore at a Texas junior college, tries to escape his Bible Belt upbringing for life in the Pacific Northwest at the most godless campus in America. It based on the best-selling book of the same name by Donald Miller and is directed by Steve Taylor.


The screening will take place on Thursday, July 26 at 7:30 p.m., but you need to register ahead of time by clicking on this link.


We need your help to get the word out. This event will only happen if a small number of people reserve a ticket by July 20th. If we don't get enough pre-registrations, the event won't happen and you won't be charged. This will be a great event, so if you haven't seen this film, let your friends know - "churched" or "unchurched."


For a review of this movie, click here. To visit the movie's official website, click here. To watch the movie trailer, click on the image below.


Let us know if you are going! We'll keep you posted on more news as it becomes available!

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

A Declaration for Today's Pop Sensation

This is an interesting video and I can't take any credit for it. It is a Spoken Word written and presented by Ashley Paige. The video was posted on You Tube on June 13 as is already making the rounds. Don't be surprised if it shown in your church or youth group this weekend.


There isn't a lot of information about what prompted this video. Crosswalk.com called it "an open letter to Lady Gaga" but there is nothing in the original description that it was aimed directly at her. It is bound to ruffle a few of Gaga's feathers though. 


So, what do you think of Ashley's video, "Dear Pop Culture"? Do you agree with her? Is she preaching to the choir? Did she go too far or not far enough? Come on, let's get the conversation started!

Seattle Director Creates Local Movie from the Ground Up


Adam Lubanski is the director of the upcoming film "Rogue Saints."

Adam Lubanski is one the most famous people you have never heard of but are familiar with his work. For 20 plus years, Lubanski has had a hand in creating motion graphics for some of the biggest movies on the big screen including “Battleship,” the upcoming “The Amazing Spiderman” and “G.I. Joe 2.” Before that, he was one of the original creators of the DVD “Scene It” games. But it is his most recent project that really warms his heart. Lubanski has taken the director’s seat for the new local, independent Christian-theme movie, “Rogue Saints.”

“Rogue Saint,” billed as “The greatest church diamond heist, romance, comedy, drama, adventure you've ever seen,” is Lubanski’s first full-length feature film. Not long ago, he got his feet wet creating a short film that poked fun about Christians and how they try to “recruit” others. His friends suggested that he enter the short into a film festival. He did and it was well received.

“The thing that I was really surprised about was that both Christians and non-Christians related to what we were doing,” says Lubanski. “That led to doing a feature length where I found a partner, [writer] Dave Brunk. Both of us were excited about the medium – not necessarily to do a Christian film per se, but just doing film.”

“Rogue Saints” was created on the shoe-stringiest of budgets with local actors. Over 300 people, professional and non-professional, showed up for the auditions. Since this would be a film where none of them could plan on quitting their day jobs, Lubanski was quite surprised by the quality of the actors. There was no requirement to a be a Christian to work on the film but, department leaders had to have an understanding of what it meant to be respectful of other human beings in a Christ-like way.

“The film really became about community within a body of believers,” adds Lubanski, “If you see people reaching out in a Christ-like way, you’re going to experience community in a way you’ve never experienced it before.”

“Rogue Saints” is about a disgruntled former church member and his out of work friend who set out to steal a diamond that just happens to be buried underneath the baptism tank of a small church. It sounds far-fetched, and it is, but that is just part of the fun. It stars local actors, some who are familiar to Seattle theatre audiences, John Wu, Jason Pead and Deanna Sarkar in the lead roles.

With Lubanski’s graphics background, the film appears to have been more expensive than it really was and will certainly give him a leg up on the competition. If he had to hire out for those graphics, the costs to make the film would have been much higher. “I’ve heard it said, and I don’t know where the source of it is, there’s two guaranteed ways to lose money in business. One of them is restaurants and the other one is making a film.”

Even though “Saints” is a faith-based film, Lubanski is cautious about calling it a “Christian” film. “I think that there are different kinds of Christian films,” he tells me. “There’s a large portion of people that realize that they have this limited opportunity to say something. They think, ‘Since there are not a lot of Christian-based films out there, we really, really need to get the audience to the sinner’s prayer.’  We avoided that and I think we came up with a compelling story from a Christian standpoint. In fact, there was a point in the production where we went, ‘let’s stop wrestling if this is a Christian film or not and just embrace that fact that this is about this [church] culture.”



Although the storylines couldn’t be more different, “Saints” has some similar qualities to another faith-based film that just made the rounds – “Blue like Jazz.” “[That film] didn’t set out to change the world of Christian filmmaking. They just did what they knew. I love that there are people who are exploring this idea of a main character who views the world from those glasses.”

Playing the devil’s advocate, I ask about the lack of a salvation message. “Because it takes place within a church, you’re going to get Christianity coming through on it. I think everyone in the United States has been introduced to Jesus. We are seeing a lot of people understand the ‘insider’s’ view point. I don’t know if many people in mainstream Hollywood understand what it looks like from within the church or to know that we think a [lot of our quirky behavior] is funny too.” He adds, “It would be very hard for me to do a movie about skateboarding and about the people who are passionate about it. I could do something that was based on clichés about it and most people would say, ‘Oh that’s cool.’ But the [skateboarder] insiders would go, ‘You’re a hack!’”

When I ask when all said and done if the project has been worth putting together, he replies, “It absolutely has been worth it and I hope to get out of debt enough to do it again. We had people who would never set foot in a church and would have very specific negative impressions about the church and take part in making the film and go, ‘You know what? This is different from what I expected.’”

“Rogue Saints” is planning on making its debut this fall. It could be produced straight to DVD, but the opportunity to get the movie shown to the public is there for those who want to help make that happen. If you would like to know more about the movie and how to promote it, Lubanski recommends that you visit the movie’s official website.
(Originally posted on Examiner.com.)

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Brave Premieres in L.A.'s Dolby Theater


Craig Ferguson, Kelly Macdonald and Kevin McKidd
attend the "Brave" premiere last night at the Dolby Theater
in Los Angeles. Photo: Diseny/Pixar

The new Disney/Pixar flick, “Brave” premiered last night at the newly-christened and grand opening of the Dolby Theatre (formerly the Kodak Theatre), in downtown Los Angeles with a big “to do.” The star-studded event included Scottish bands, food, beer and appearances of the voice talents in the movie including Craig Ferguson, Kelly Macdonald and Kevin McKidd.

According to Steve Pond for The Wrap, “Brave” will be a chance to recover from the “disappointing” returns from last year’s “Cars 2.” That movie “only” grossed more than $550 million worldwide, but “was nonetheless seen as something of a disappointment for the groundbreaking Pixar, which had enjoyed 11 consecutive critical and commercial hits and four straight Academy Awards for Best Animated Feature.”

Set in the rugged and mysterious Highlands of Scotland, “Brave” follows the heroic journey of Merida, a skilled archer and headstrong daughter. Determined to change her fate, Merida defies an age-old custom sacred to the unruly and uproarious lords of the land: massive Lord MacGuffin, surly Lord Macintosh, and cantankerous Lord Dingwall, unleashing chaos in the kingdom. When she turns to an eccentric witch, Miranda is granted an ill-fated wish and the ensuing peril forces her to harness all of her resources—including her mischievous triplet brothers—to undo a beastly curse and discover the meaning of true bravery.

“Brave” is Directed by Mark Andrews and Brenda Chapman, and opens on June 22, 2012, in Disney Digital 3D™ in select theaters.


I will post my review of the movie this weekend. (Originally posted on Examiner.com)

Monday, June 18, 2012

Banana Bunker is the Website of the Week


Bruised bananas don't have a chance with the new
Banana Bunker. Photo: Cultured Containers.

Do you find yourself struggling to buy gifts for people who have everything? Well, worry no more as I have found the one product I am sure that they will not already have…the Banana Bunker. Cultured Containers recommends that you “pamper your banana” with Banana Bunker, a device designed to protect this delicate fruit from bruising on your crazy commute to work.

Most of us don’t give bananas a second thought and just figure that a little bruising is just part of the hard knocks of life. But that’s the beauty of this thing – now you don’t have to settle for bruises. And while the Bunker protects your banana, it also protects the other items sitting in your backpack from becoming a gooey mess. It’s the product you didn’t know that you needed.

The slightly obscene Banana Bunker comes in a variety of colors including blue, green, yellow, orange and clear. The product isn’t cheap ($6.99 for one) but if you care about your bananas, it is a dream come true. Or maybe, it could be next year’s most awesome white elephant gift at the next church Christmas party.

Two questions come to mind:
  1. How did we manage to live this long without these?
  2. How can we manage to live without similar devices for our mangos, grapes and kiwis? You can find you own Banana Bunker by clicking here(Originally posted on Examiner.com)

Dr. Seuss Classic Features Timely Moral


Copyright: Warner Bros. Home Video

The newer big screen productions of Dr. Seuss books like “The Lorax” and “Horton Hears a Who,” are definitely impressive. Trying to capture the heart and style of the good doctor is not an easy task, and these two did a very fine job. They are full of color and contain beautiful animation and are… long, which is a mistake. Dr. Seuss’ stories are typically short, almost always rhyme and don’t hold much of a plot. Sometimes the original half hour TV specials are superior to the big budget flicks. Warner Bros. Home Video will be releasing one of those favorite specials this month and it may be one that you forgot about.

“Dr. Seuss’s Green Eggs and Ham and Other Stories, Deluxe Edition” will hit store shelves on June 26. Originally titled, “Dr. Seuss on the Loose,” the special first hit the airwaves on CBS back in 1973. It contains three stories including “The Sneeches,” “The Zax” and of course, the famous breakfast dish story with a slight green hue. Each story is introduced by the Cat in the Hat.

While a little too sweet and somewhat boring for older children, “Green Eggs and Ham” is the perfect preschool video with good morals to boot. The video is filled with cheery, happy songs that will no doubt annoy parents but will delight the little ones.

“Green Eggs and Ham” may be the more famous story of the three featured here, but it is “The Sneeches” that is the biggest surprise on how timely and relevant it still is. (See a clip below) Sneeches, if you don’t already know, are big yellow-feathered birds who all look identical except that some are born with a blue star on their stomachs and others are born san stars. The “star-bellied Sneeches” take the position that they are more superior to the other Sneeches just because they have a star. The star-bellied Sneeches don’t allow the others to join their social groups; they treat the others like dirt and don’t allow the plain Sneeches to enjoy the same benefits as their starred brethren.

This all changes when Sylvester McMonkey McBean arrives with his special machine that applies blue stars on bellies – for a price. Soon, every un-starred Sneech is now starred and are ready to join the ranks of the elite group. The original star-bellied Sneeches do not like this at all and complain to McBean about his machine. McBean takes this opportunity to unveil a new machine, designed for star-bellied Sneeches, that removes blue stars. It could be argued now that stars are no longer in fashion. Soon, all of the original star-bellied Sneeches go through the procedure to have their stars removed and feel superior once again. As you can imagine, the leftover star-bellied Sneeches go through the process of removing their stars as well. Soon, all of the Sneeches go through the machines over and over again applying and taking off the stars until they all run out of money. When that time comes, McBean packs up and leans the land with two kinds of Sneeches once again, only now, the Sneeches can’t tell which Sneech is which. They finally come to the conclusion that none of the Sneeches are more important or powerful than the others.

“The Sneeches” is a tale of racism that children can easily digest without being preachy. The other two tales have messages too, but not as strong as the first one. “The Zax” is a tale of a “north-going  Zax” and “south-going Zax” who meet in the middle. Each have their own principles that they either only travel north or south and will not move out of the way for the other. The two never give in to the other and the tale ends with a city and highway being built around the two who refuse to give in, even to this day.


“Green Eggs and Ham” is simply a metaphor for a parent trying to get their child to try out different types of food. Sam-I-Am nags his friend (who has no name) to give the dish a try, but he will not until many scenarios later when Sam finally wears his friend down and finally gives them a try. To his surprise, the friend not only likes the green eggs and ham, but actually loves them and thanks Sam for bringing the dish to his attention. There is no proof that this story will help transform your picky eaters at home, but it couldn’t hurt.

The “Green Eggs and Ham Deluxe Edition” comes with both a Blu-Ray disc and a DVD. The program has been re-mastered and contains four interactive puzzles. 
(Originally posted on Examiner.com)

Friday, June 15, 2012

Rock of Ages: A Morality Tale with No Morality


Sherrie (Julianne Hough) and Drew (Diego Boneta) take a
break from singing in a local Tower Records store.
Photo: Warner Bros.

Julianne Hough headlines the film adaptation of the “smash hit” Broadway musical, “Rock of Ages” and is quite impressive. It’s too bad that the rest of the movie isn’t. Though the film features big names, great music and some nice dance sequences, “Rock of Ages” will leave you feeling empty. Maybe that’s the point.

“Rock of Ages” is directed by Adam Shankman, who also did the big screen version of “Hairspray.” The comedy love story is told through musical numbers of popular “big hair” rock songs from the ‘80s. At times, the movie feels familiar. It could be because the score is by Adam Anders and Peer Astrom from TV’s  “Glee.”

Dennis Dupree (Alec Baldwin) and Lonny
(Russell Brand) run The Bourbon bar.
The musical begins with Sherrie (Hough), a small town girl with big city dreams. She takes the bus from middle America to Hollywood in hopes of becoming a singer. Within mere minutes, she meets Drew (Diego Boneta), finds a job at a bar, The Bourbon, and falls in love. Not bad for a first day. The couple serves at the bar, but would rather perform on the stage. After a big song number at the local Tower Records store Drew admits that he has stage fright.

The Bourbon is owned by an aging rocker, Dennis Dupree (Alec Baldwin – a questionable or brilliant choice depending on your point of view) and Lonny (Russell Brand). The bar is losing money and they are putting all of their hope in a performance by the legendary Stacee Jaxx (Tom Cruise) who got his start there. Meanwhile, the mayor, Mike Whitmore (Bryan Cranston) and his wife, Patricia (Catherine Zeta-Jones) plan to put a stop to the dangerous rock and roll and protest the coming concert.

Patricia Whitmore (Catherine Zeta Jones)
and the church ladies sing "Hit Me with
Your Best Shot."
Hough goes from ballroom dancing on TV’s “Dancing with the Stars” to pole dancing in “Rock of Ages,” (her mother must be so proud), but shines with a beautiful voice. Zeta-Jones is hilarious as the self-righteous mayor’s wife and has a great dance number with a bunch of church women in the sanctuary to the song, “Hit Me With Your Best Shot.” Cruise has been getting a lot of buzz about his performance as Jaxx and he does a good job, but frankly, the movie would have been helped with less of him. For the rest of the cast, once you see them with their outrageous costumes and big hair, the joke is over. However, the best joke of the movie goes to Sherrie and Drew talking about how far they have fallen from their dreams:

Constance Sack (Malin Akerman),
reporter for the Rolling Stones tries to get
an interview with Stacee Jaxx
(Tom Cruise).
Sherrie:  “I’m a stripper at the Venus club.”
Drew:     “I’m in a boy band.”
Sherrie:  “You win.”

There doesn’t seem to be much of a point to “Rock of Ages.” It seems to want to tell a morality tale, but there isn’t much morality in the tale to tell. It tries to tell the virtues of rock and roll at any cost. It also tries to compare the two lifestyles of those who go to the music bar and those that go to the stripper bar with no real difference. The filmmakers can pat themselves on the back for not showing anyone smoking or doing drugs, as we know that never happened in the ‘80s. Instead, they choose to show people drinking heavily, getting sick and passing out. Finally, for a film that shows no nudity (which is incredibly difficult for strip club), it features some surprising gratuitous and raunchy sexual scenes outside of the strip club. By the end you’ll be thinking, “This is it?” You’d do better to buy the soundtrack. (Originally posted on Examiner.com)

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Live ‘Men of Honor’ Event Airs this Friday


Inspired by the movie, “Courageous,” Life Way is sponsoring a live “Men of Honor” simulcast this Friday, June 15 at 7 p.m. (Eastern time). The simulcast will feature the movie “Courageous” creators, actors and special guests live from the Sherwood Baptist Church in Albany, GA. More than 500 churches are participating in this project including at least one in each of the 50 states.

“Courageous” featured police officers but is really about being better husbands and fathers. Four officers, Adam, Nathan, David and Shane serve together during the week and socialize on the weekends. They give their best while on the job, but their families receive the leftovers when they get home. They are not jerks or bad guys. They are you. They are me.

“Men of Honor” will feature Michael Catt, senior pastor of Sherwood Church  and executive producer of “Courageous,” Stephen Kendrick, co-writer and producer of the film, and Alex Kendrick, co-writer and director of the film. Additional guests include a round table discussion with “Courageous” actors Robert Amaya, Ken Bevel, Kevin Downes and Daniel Simmons.

Registration for the event is $5. To register or find a venue close to you, click here.
(Originally posted on Examiner.com.)

Monday, June 11, 2012

‘Hoodwinked’ Creator Attached to New ‘Frog and Toad’ Feature


Copyright: HarperCollins Children’s Books

The Jim Henson Company has just announced that Cory Edwards, director, storyteller and comedian, who just happens to be a Christian as well, has signed on to direct a new animated “Frog and Toad” feature.

The beloved “Frog and Toad” books were written and illustrated by Arnold Lobel in the 1970’s. There are four books in all with five short stories in each which tell the adventures of Frog and his friend Toad. So, just how much trouble can one frog and toad get into? Plenty.

 “’Frog and Toad’ has tremendous value with parents who read these charming stories when
they were children and are now sharing them with their own kids,” said Lisa Henson, CEO of
The Jim Henson Company. “With such high caliber talent on board, the delightful and funny
adventures of these two great friends--with a nod to the classic ‘buddy movie’--will bring a whole new audience to their big screen debut.”

Lisa Henson will produce for The Jim Henson Company.  Adam Lobel and Adrianne Lobel will
executive  produce.  Craig Bartlett (“Dinosaur Train” and “Hey Arnold!”) will write the screenplay
and Cory Edwards (“Hoodwinked” and “Hoodwinked Too: Hood vs. Evil”) is attached to direct.

Just one of Cory Edwards' latest inventions.
Photo: Cory Edwards
Edwards is a very funny and talented man whose true talents has been somewhat hidden from the public eye. “Hoodwinked,” a multi-view story of Little Red Riding Hood, was a surprise hit in 2005. Although talk of creating a sequel was on the table right away, it took six years for the sequel to come about and when it did, much of Edward’s inspiration was changed creating a lackluster show. Edwards’ next disappointment came with the dissolved “Fraggle Rock” project (based on the Jim Henson television series that ran in the 1980’s.) that he had invested much time into.

Perhaps it is just a case of ADD, but Edwards is not one to stand still very long. While waiting for his next big break, Edwards created the first continuing Twitter series, “Roger Cosmonkey,” about a former NASA test monkey  in May of 2011. In July 2011, a second season was created.  Then in May of this year, he created a new animated web series, “Krogzilla Gets a Job,” for Shut Up! Cartoons. The short story is about a terrorizing sea monster that gets downsized. His best friend is a barnacle named Jeff. (You can watch this amazing video below.)

It will be exciting and interesting to see how this new project shapes up since the storyline is gentler than Edwards’ usual material. Perhaps through Frog and Toad, Edwards will receive the recognition he deserves. (Originally posted on Examiner.com.)


Friday, June 8, 2012

Shear Madness is Crazy Fun


(Clockwise from L-R: Mary Ann Conk,
Joe Ditmyer, Michael Kevin Baldwin,
Lisa McMillan, Timothy C. Goodwin,
Patrick Noonan. Photo: Broadway World

The Moore Theatre in Seattle has received the grand opportunity to host the first ever touring show of “Shear Madness” which is showing now until June 24. This over-the-top is terribly clever and more fun than you can imagine.

The American version of “Shear Madness” began its’ first production in Boston in 1980. It has been playing continually ever since making it the longest running play in American theatre history. It was voted “Best Comedy of the Year” seven times by the Boston Globe, received the Raven Award from the Mystery Writers of America, has been inducted into the Comedy Hall of Fame and even has been listed in the Guinness Book of World Records.

Seattle is the new touring show’s first stop. Written by Paul Pörtner, and adapted by Bruce Jordan and Marilyn Abrams, “Shear Madness” is set in a unisex hairstyling salon on Capitol Hill of Seattle. Tony Whitcomb (Michael Kevin Baldwin) is the owner of “Shear Madness” and Barbara DeMarco (Mary Ann Conk) is a stylist.  Their clientele includes Mikey Thomas (Timothy C. Goodwin), Eddie Lawrence (Joe Ditmyer), Nick O’Brien (Patrick Noonan) and Mrs. Shubert (Lisa McMillan). Without spoiling the fun, just know that a murder takes place and four of them are suspects.

This show is unique for so many reasons. For one, the actors begin acting on stage before the actual starting of the story. During intermission, the actors don’t leave the stage, but rather continue to act out. Second, the show is filled with local and current pop culture references. Some jokes are tasteless (like one about the recent shootings) and some just fall flat, but that is okay because the show is packed with one-liners that are winning. The show is also interactive as the audience is given the chance and encouraged to question the suspects after the intermission.

The ensemble cast not only does a great job with the show, but appear to really enjoy working together as well. During the press night, one character surprised another with an action that wasn’t planned before time which caused them to lose character a bit to the delight of the audience. There is no weak link in this chain. Mary Ann Conk is a hoot and should be as she has played her role over 3,000 times before the road show. Lisa McMillan almost steals the show with her portrayal as Mrs. Shubert.

The play if fairly clean with little swearing, but does contain some bawdy humor. Also, more conservative theatre-goers may be put off by Baldwin’s flamboyant portrayal as a gay hairdresser. However, the play isn’t trying to make any statements – it is just for fun.

“Shear Madness” holds two performances a day, every day except Mondays, from now until June 24. The times change each day from as early as 1:00 p.m. to as late as 9 p.m., so be sure to check the website for correct time. Tickets are $35 and can be ordered online or by calling 1-877-784-4849. The Moore Theatre is located at 1932 Second Avenue, Seattle, WA 98101.
(Originally posted on Examiner.com)

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Gentlemint is the Pinterest for Men


Why “pin” when you can “tack?” That’s the concept of the new Gentlemint, a sort of Pinterest for men. It’s not to say that Pinterest is only for women, it’s not. Many men “pin” things on Pinterest (including yours truly), but let’s face it, by and large, Pinterest features things that appeal to women including recipes, craft projects and pictures of shirtless men.

Instead of “pinning” things, Gentlemint “tacks” things. I’d like to say how much different Gentlemint is, but I haven’t been accepted yet. I signed up weeks ago, but haven’t been officially invited to join. Gentlemint has only officially been online for a few months now and the founders, Glen Stansberry and Brian McKinney, were not expecting the huge response. “Before we knew it, we had thousands of people sieging Gentlemint's keep, all clamoring to register for the site,” says Stansberry in a post that is dated February 8, 2012. “Ever since hitting that point, Brian and I have been in "survival" mode, just trying to bolster the tech behind the site, and keep up with the email requests, interviews, feedback, questions, and everything else that comes with a lot of people digging your site at the same time. We've had to shelve needed features that we were nearly ready to release in order to keep the tide at bay.”

So, if you’re like me, while you wait to be accepted into this “mint of manly things,” you can enjoy some of the more popular “tacks” on the site including a photo on how to turn a watermelon into a keg, a list of ten of the best baseball movies ever made and a dead cat that was turned into a toy helicopter when it was hit by a car and the owner, an “artist” (or mad scientist) created a new life for his feline friend. (Take that Pinterest!)

Stansberry also offers a bit of hope for me on the blog saying, “For those who have signed up to the invite list, don't worry, you're still there. You'll be in soon, and thanks for being patient with us.”

I don’t know. Maybe this posting will help speed things along. (Originally posted on Examiner.com)

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Petra Makes a Comeback


Petra, one of Christian music’s biggest and oldest bands, just won’t stop. Taking its’ name from the Greek word for “rock,” Petra was formed in 1972. In over 30 years, the band faced numerous changes and yet released 20 albums, selling nearly 10 million copies. They won four Grammy Awards and 10 Dove Awards.

The 1980’s were the peak of Petra’s career. The played in front of sold-out arenas nationwide, sold hundreds of thousands of albums each year and racked up numerous radio hits. Petra was the first rock band inducted into the Gospel Music Hall of Fame and the first Christian band whose memorabilia was included in the Hard Rock Cafe restaurant chain.

The band announced its’ retirement in 2005. Then, like other popular older bands, launched a farewell tour. Petra's 33-year career ended with a performance in the early hours of January 1, 2006. However, some band members were not ready to quit. Some of the band members subsequently reunited for concerts in 2007 and 2010. In November 2010, the resurrected band, re-named Classic Petra, released the CD “Back to the Rock” that featured new material and re-recordings from the ’80.



This year marks the 40th year of Petra. Classic Petra, whose team consists of Bob Hartman, Mark Kelly, John Lawry, Greg X Volz and Louie Weaver, will once again take the road and has just released “Petra: Best of the 80’s” album. The album features 10 of the group’s biggest hits: 
  • All Fired Up       
  • This Means War!             
  • Bema Seat         
  • The Coloring Song          
  • Judas' Kiss          
  • Mine Field         
  • He Came He Saw He Conquered              
  • It Is Finished     
  • More Power To Ya          
  • Thankful Heart 

 Other new music released this week includes:
  • “Not Guilty” (Single) by Darlene McCoy
  • “Conclusions” by Altars
  • “Vice Reverses” by Switchfoot
  • “Life Will Write the Words” by The Rocket Summer
  • “Lost Weekend” by Write This Down
  • “Wake Up” by Canopy Red
  • “Hope Rise” by Andy Tallman
  • “Higher” by Regina Belle
  • “We Have Not Heard” by The Sunrise
(Originally posted on Examiner.com)

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