Seven Pounds - Film Reviews

“The Pursuit of Happyness” director Gabriele Muccino and its star Will Smith are together again creating a movie about the tough times in life. Smith takes us through Ben Thomas’ life full of sorrow, regret and purpose as though he wasn’t in a movie meaning there’s not a lot of exposition. Even though the ending isn’t the surprise twist I was expecting, it’s still nice and not completely expected.

- Will Smith – I am making the official statement that he is by far one of my favorite actors. The man is talented. Similar to “The Pursuit of Happyness” we are shown that life isn’t always wonderful. But unlike “Happyness” the struggles aren’t job or homeless related. We see another very common human struggle – that of grief and regret. Smith’s talents are seen in both his acting range (from suicidal to justice seeker to falling in love) and in his abilities to play these extremes realistically. That’s not easy.

- The Story – It’s unconventional and things clearly don’t happen as they would in real life. But sometimes stories in real life are just that – unconventional and don’t stick to the norm.

- The Characters – Each is their own and is not a caricature. One thing I hate in movies is when characters play out the same way they’ve played out before. Men have heart to hearts in bars. Sick women cough a lot. Etc. The leading roles in “Pounds” all march to their own beat within Thomas’ band. It is sometimes odd, but it works. My favorite is Rosario Dawson, she’s not your average ingénue.

- Length – Recently there’s been a trend of movies that are too long or drag in parts or don’t connect enough in others. I think we need to send the current Directors, Editors, Producers, Writers and who ever else is responsible for the pacing of a movie back to film school. “Seven Pounds” is too long and drags in a spot or two.

- The Jellyfish – Smith’s character has a jellyfish and it has an important part during the film. I don’t want to say too much, but my question is “Why?” There must be better ways.

I don’t think it’ll be nominated for anything, but I liked it. It’s a little different than most films with the same “good deeds” theme. And although a million questions run through your head during the first, say 130 minutes of the movie, the director reveals enough along the way so that you’re not in total “What the heck?” mode. I like that they don’t reveal Thomas’ true intentions until the end.

What did you think? Hit or miss for Smith? Did the jellyfish thing bother you as much as it did me?

“Basically, I'm for anything that gets you through the night - be it prayer, tranquilizers or a bottle of Jack Daniels.” – Frank Sinatra
So may the prayers, tranquilizers and JD be with you and see you next time.

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Movie Review - Yes Man

“Yes Man” is the latest comedy from the always wacky Jim Carrey. The film is an adaptation of the novel written by Danny Wallace. It’s a slightly predictable, yet loveable movie about opportunity and what life may throw at you if just stop saying “No” and start saying ... you know!

- Jim Carrey – Some critics are saying “no” to Carrey saying that this is a duplicate of “Liar, Liar.” I agree that they’re similar, but what actor hasn’t found a niche and stuck with it? I think some critics are missing the point of “Yes Man.” Carl (Carrey) has been stuck in a funk since getting divorced and is loosing touch with his closest friends by always saying “no” to social invites. But by saying “yes” to all opportunities, Carl sees that life is still worth enjoying. Who can’t relate to that?! Carrey isn’t Ace Ventura any more. He’s not Dumb and Dumber any more. He’s finding age appropriate work that can still show case his funny abilities but also the fact that he can act too and not just with funny voices.

- The Plot – It’s simple and realistic. Saying “Yes” all the time doesn’t win Carl the lottery, doesn’t allow him to meet any celebrities, and doesn’t get him super cool stuff. Instead he reconnects with his closest friends, helps people, and travels (to Nebraska, but hey, I said it was realistic). He ends up enjoying most of it and who doesn’t want to finally take those flying lessons and have it go well?

- It’s a little long.

- Shoulda put Zooey Deschanel in it more.

- It’s a little predictable, but that doesn’t take away from the endearing element of reconnecting with the important people in your life and rediscovering that life isn’t just your job.

I liked “Yes Man” even though it was predicable. It has a positive look on life and friends and I think people need more of that these days. Jim Carrey is warm, Zooey Deschanel is adorable and the supporting cast helps the story along. I say “Yes” to “Yes Man.”

Do you think this film is too similar to “Liar, Liar?” Has Carrey lost his flare? What did you think about the movie?

“Basically, I'm for anything that gets you through the night - be it prayer, tranquilizers or a bottle of Jack Daniels.” – Frank Sinatra
So may the prayers, tranquilizers and JD be with you and see you next time.

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Papillary Thyroid Cancer and Me

I’m doing the cliché thing and writing a blog post about my recent adventure with Papillary Thyroid Cancer, which obviously has nothing to do with movies or work, so we’ll squeeze it in under the “random” category and say it fits. I'm hoping that others in the same boat will read this and find out about some of the bumps and twists I’ve encountered that I hadn’t read about or been told of. I'm also hoping that others will share their experiences. Maybe you were recently diagnosed, or your surgery is in a few weeks, or you’re a recent post-op like me. Whatever your case may be, below is my adventure and I would love to hear yours, so please post comments or links to your blog, advice, or whatever you'd like to share below.

(Warning - Personal details are mentioned in this. I just want to give you a heads up before you start reading) It’s late August and while brushing my teeth I notice a small lump on the lower right side of my neck. Having never noticed it before, I decide to go to my doctor. He moves the lump around, pokes it and other stuff and doesn’t seem too concerned. He recommends an ultrasound and a specialist, just to make sure. The ultrasound reveals that not only do I have one thyroid nodule (the one I went to the doctor for), but that I have another one, on the left side of my thyroid. The specialist, an Endocrinologist, does another ultrasound and decides to do a fine needle aspiration biopsy. I’m terrified of needles, but I know it is important. He has a wonderful nurse who explains every tool to me and walks me through the biopsy. No panic attack, yeah! After another week of waiting (and a week before my 26th birthday) I get a call from the specialist. I don’t remember his exact words, but in summary the Endocrinologist says, “Your biopsy results came back as highly suspicious for cancer.” He mentions that since there are two nodules and one came back suspicious, surgery would be the best option. SURGERY! Eeek! This is when I tell my boss and my friends. I am not telling my immediate coworkers yet though, I am waiting until I have an actual surgery date to break the news to them as well as my extended family.

Another week or so goes by and I meet with the surgeon the Endocrinologist recommended. He’s extremely friendly and upbeat and reassures me that there will be no hideous scar. He tells me I’ll be out of work for 2 whole weeks. More time goes by before his nurse calls to schedule the surgery. I now have a date. November 17th, 2008 will be the day that, for me, lives in infamy. Now I can finally feel comfortable sharing my news with everyone.

My coworkers are great about it. Nothing but hugs and sympathy and advice. And that night I write my extended family an email. My close friends are happy for me that the waiting is over, they know how I hate uncertainty. My parents and brother start planning their time off from work to help and stay with me at the hospital. Everything is in the works – thank goodness.

My last week at work is a doosey. This is the week it seems that all my clients decide to call. It is exhausting. Conveniently, my last Friday is a potluck lunch! Yummy!

The weekend before the surgery is great. It’s Friday night and I’m going out to a dinner with just my girlfriends. One friend is a nurse at the Children’s Hospital for the Kings Daughters. I feel bad, I told her about the surgery during her bachelorette party. Our Girls Dinner is great. Everyone gives me hugs and well wishes on our way out.

Saturday I do things around the house to prepare for my stay at the hospital (which I have never done before) as well as a stay at my parents house while recovering for a few days. Saturday night I plan on sleeping a lot. Sunday is my day with my family. We go out to eat, to a movie and relax at the house. I am sleeping there the night before the surgery because my mom is taking me to the hospital in the morning.

November 17th - Monday morning – Surgery Day. I don’t have to be at the hospital until 12 pm, but, while in the shower, they call to see if we can come in early. My mom and I get a head start to the craziest part of my adventure. We arrive, check in and finally get escorted to the prep area. First there are a lot of questions that I have already answered 5 times previously. Then I have to put on a hospital gown and then the IV. As mentioned before, I’m terrified of needles. I freak out of course, which is the strangest feeling because it’s uncontrollable. And then it is done. The anasesiologist pays a visit. And finally my surgeon comes in, meets my folks, checks out my neck and where the incision will be made. A lot of other people come in with scrubs already on and introduce themselves, but I can’t concentrate. I know, since the surgeon has just been in that it is getting close to zero hour. And sure enough, I start to feel sleepy. At this hospital a lullaby is played over the loud speaker when a baby is born and as soon as the nurses administered the sleepy meds and start to wheel me away, the lullaby comes on. We all have a nice laugh. I have a brief flash of being wheeled down some halls and the actual OR, but then it’s black and my life’s about to change.

I wake up in my hospital room with the door open and a couple of nurses, my family and a family friend around me. Everyone tells me I am ok and that the surgery is over. The surgeon comes in and tells me it went fine but when he opened me up he could see that it was in fact cancer. I really did have thyroid cancer, I can’t believe it. He had to remove some Lymph nodes, which is very common and I will later find out he removed some muscle from my neck as well because the cancer started to branch out. Gross. He said that the surgery had taken longer than expected (3 hours), but that it went well.

Recovery – The rest of Monday is a blur but at some point my body realizes trauma has been done and freaks out. Commonly from this surgery the parathyroid glands go into shock. The parathyroid glands control calcium levels and when your body doesn’t get enough calcium it cramps up. My entire body starts to cramp, happening so fast. One minute I tell my mom I feel tingly near the bottom of my jaw, then it spreads to my eyelids, it twists my mouth to the left, my fingers contract and look like claws, my abs, and butt also contract and now I’m laying about 2 inches higher than normal. The nurses know what is going on immediately. They have to take blood from my claw like hands and one nurse frantically jabs me trying to get a working vein. I am too concerned my lungs and heart might contract to worry about needles though. It takes two nurses to straighten out my arm so they can draw blood and send it to the lab for the calcium levels. The lab takes an hour. It takes another hour to order the calcium for my tangled body still having muscle contractions. Thank goodness for my mom who messages my tired legs and jaw and wrists. I’ve never been more terrified for myself in all my life. Finally relief comes. Two pouches full. It takes a few minutes for my body to absorb the calcium and send it in the right directions, but it does. And I can relax (especially my rear end). The next morning I get ice cream for breakfast and have a quick meeting with the surgeon (who already knows about the previous night’s incident). He says he mentioned there might be a reaction from the lack of calcium, but I had NOT expected that. Once the doctor leaves the nurses come in carrying a bedpan. I am not happy about this. I beg the nurses, “Please, I really do have to go, if you could just help me up to the bathroom.” 20 minutes or so pass - nothing. “That’s common after being under anesthesia, just give it time,” they say. And soon enough they're proven right.

Tuesday - My dad and I watch talk shows and the news. I’m in and out of sleep during this first full day of post surgery recovery. About every 15 minutes a nurse comes in. Thank goodness for those nurses. That is not a glamorous job, but I need their help. My mom and brother come by. Tuesday night’s entertainment is two of my friends stopping by and me trying something new, “Percocet.” I like Percocet. Morphine kicks my butt and leaves me foggy headed, but the Percocet is great. After my friends and dad leave my mom and brother take me for a walk around the hospital. When I finally fall asleep, I sleep through the night despite receiving another visitor, which I will not know about until a day after I leave the hospital. There are some treats in a zip lock bag on a table next to my bed. During the night my mom hears a little noise. At first she thinks it is the heater, then she sees the newspaper covering the treats move. She lifts the paper to find a mouse enjoying a late night snack. She seals the bag and brings it to the nurse’s station who get the maintenance crew to take care of it. I have no idea about the mouse.

Wednesday - The nurses don't have to help me with everything today. Yeah! The nurses steal popsicles for me because I feel swollen. Breakfast is eggs and pancakes, I am so excited. I take a couple of bites and stop. Gross. Something isn’t right. And then I throw up. Dang it. For the first time since the surgery I couldn’t stop the nausea. Three times and it is over. I finally get permission from the doctor to go home and there is light at the end of this nasty morning. The surgeon’s assistant takes out the drains and about 10 surgical students watch. After that it is a sprint to get dressed, pack up and get to my own bed as soon as possible. At home, we have soup for dinner, which I inhale, I am so hungry. And then another visit from a friend which is when my mom tells me about the mouse.

Thursday is a big day. I take my first shower since the surgery, my mom and I run errands and pick up Panera for lunch. I am exhausted after just blow drying my hair, so by the time we are done with errands and lunch, it is naptime. My neck and back are miserably sore from the previous night, so I take Tylenol and head to bed. I fall asleep with the TV on and wake up at about 4 am and like a little baby I wine about my back and neck hurting and cry myself back to sleep.

Friday – Friday is not a good day, which is frustrating to me. Thursday was great with the errands and such. But Friday, all I want to do is sleep and eat. I wake up and have breakfast and go back to bed. Wake up around 12, eat lunch and back to bed with my mom calling after me, “See you for dinner then.” It is true. I sleep about another 2 hours. I shower and eat dinner with my parents then there is a knock at the door. My ride is here. I am going to the movies and my friends are nice enough to pick me up. The trip to the movies is great, but I am pooped by the time I am dropped off. I get into bed hoping that maybe this night I’ll sleep comfortably. You know, the last thing you think of as part of a recovery is to be your back and the back of your neck hurting. I sleep a normal amount of time this night.

Saturday – Everyone has something to do, so I decide it is time to go back to my own place. I am worried I have forgotten how to drive, but, as I told my dad later “I didn’t hit anyone or get lost!” Having ADD, not taking those meds for a week after you’ve taken them every day for 5 years, along with still having some minor effects of anesthesia, make a person a little loopy. So I’m worried about driving. Later, my friends are celebrating a birthday, so I join in. Tonight I get to sleep in my own bed again. Sadly, it is just ok. I still can’t get totally comfortable.

Sunday - My mom calls in the morning to make sure nothing happened to me during the night, which it didn’t. I run an errand and go to my folks. We go to an early dinner and enjoy some TV. The night ends with a million “Be careful driving” wishes and I am off. I don’t get to bed until late, but that is ok, because tomorrow I don’t have work. I am still on medical leave. But Sunday is my worst night of sleep yet. It takes forever to fall asleep. I sleep for about 3 hours, wake up and can’t go back to sleep no matter what I do. I decide to make breakfast and try sleeping again. It doesn’t work. My throat is starting to feel tight so I go to the store and buy a ton of popsicles and some Tylenol PM. My meals consist of soft noodles and popsicles, which is ok by me. At 10 pm I take the Tylenol PM and conk out around 11 pm but wake up at 4 am again. At least I slept straight through until 4 which is a good 6 hours of sleep and I am fine for the rest of Monday.

Tuesday – I have an afternoon appointment to see my surgeon, get the Steri-Strips taken off my incision and check out my scar for the first time. I arrive early, and they see me early. He does an EXTREMELY fast check up and examines my neck. Everything seems fine to him. He has me look at my scar in the mirror. “Oh ok.” I say with mild enthusiasm. “Worse than you expected?” He asks. “No! It looks totally fine. I didn’t know what to expect.” And that is the truth. I was keeping an open mind about my scar on purpose. I didn’t want to picture a horrific scar and then cry at the sight of a fairly good one and I didn’t want to imagine no scar at all, because I didn’t want to be disappointed when there was one. But mine is fine, it really is. Small and healing well, what more can you ask for. I try to hand him some paperwork so that I can go back to work on Monday. He tells me to hand it to his nurse. I try to give it to her and she says to hand it to the patient check out coordinator. I hand it to her, emphasizing its importance. Later, I call with the fax number for the paperwork and again emphasize the importance of it being done that day or the next. The rest of the day goes by quickly. At night I take more Tylenol PM and Tuesday night turns out to be the first night I sleep through it completely. I do a little happy dance in the morning.

Wednesday – Today I have an early appointment with my Endocrinologist. He monitors my hormone and calcium levels. Today the Doctor explains that Papillary cancer sometimes can spread to the lungs, so I need a chest X-ray. We also talk about the radioactive iodine pill I have to take. Both of these things freak me out and Wednesday is not a good day. The radioactive iodine pill means I am out of work AGAIN for an entire week! This is very frustrating and I almost cry. The Endocrinologist emphasizes that there is no rush and says, “If there was an immediate threat to your health, I’d tell you to cancel your vacation.” Good to know because I am going on vacation in a month or so. Then I’m off to get blood work done and the X-ray. As soon as I get home I email my boss. I also email the HR lady to see if she’s received the paperwork I left at the surgeon’s office yesterday. The HR lady tells me she has not received the paperwork yet. Now I’m mad. I call the surgeon’s office and ask to speak to the nurse. The next hour is a series of phone calls that are way too boring to describe, but they do not go well, and I’m so angry I’m shaking by the time I actually speak to the nurse. I frantically explain the situation and she tells me that paperwork takes 7 -10 days, a policy I was not aware of. She mentions it was on the form. I ask, “What form?” She says, “You didn’t get a form?” I say, “No.” She says, “Ok well I’ll have to talk to the girls up front about that. And I’ll get your paperwork done as soon as I can. It won’t be today.” Even more frantically, I emphasize the severity of this paperwork and she finally says she’ll get it done on Friday. I find this aspect of the whole surgery very hard because it’s giving up control of when I go back to work to someone who has no idea how imperative it is to be there on Monday. I am panicked and upset for the rest of the day. Both parents encourage me to relax. Relax and let go of the possibility of the cancer spreading and let go of something I have no control over – the paperwork. I need to sleep because we’re getting an early start to a long drive to visit family in western Maryland.

Thanksgiving – This day is difficult because there’s so much up in the air and like I said, I hate uncertainty. Which dates I should pick for the radioactive iodine pill, if the Endocrinologist saw anything in my X-ray and if my paperwork will make it to my office by tomorrow. Today is not that great physically either. I’m weak from the stresses of yesterday in conjunction with the fact that I am still having some issues with getting my body back to normal. Also, I know there will be a lot of hugs and questions from my concerned extended family as this is the first time I will be seeing most of them since learning the news. The drive is unexpectedly more mountainous and takes a very long time. Traveling or anything that’s not a part of my regular routine is more draining than usual. I’m only a week and a half post surgery and still don’t have full range of motion, can’t sleep on my side yet and as mentioned above am still having certain difficulties.

Thanksgiving and Beyond – Now I am a month out from surgery. Full recovery is taking longer than I thought. It’s weird because some things such as singing to the radio, etc, feel different than they did before. The surgeon has cut things, sewn them back together, and other surgery stuff I don’t want to think about, so all my bits and pieces are probably not in the exact same place and getting used to them in their new locations will take some time. Also, I’m still numb on the lower part of my neck. Surprisingly (in a good way) I didn’t bruise. I’m still using Scar Guard on my incision and wearing turtlenecks to cover up the fresh scar. Thank goodness it’s the winter time. I am finally sleeping on my side comfortably and all functions are back to normal. I am pretty sore by the end of the day and my energy levels go up and down due to the temporary hormone I’m taking. It’s temporary because I’ll soon be taking the radioactive iodine pill and this temporary hormone is easier to get out of my system. That will be my next post, if you’re interested. So stay tuned because this roller coaster called Papillary Thyroid Cancer isn’t over yet.
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Classic Holiday Movies & New, Modern Classic Holiday Movies

I reviewed a lot of “Top Holiday Movies” lists and came up with 5 that were on every single one of them. But I also wanted to mention some of the most modern and current holiday movies that could be considered the “New Classic Holiday Movies.” Enjoy! And Leave your Comments below! Happy Holidays!

Mentioned on every single list I checked was our top movie: "It’s a Wonderful Life." This movie from 1946 stars James Stewart and Donna Reed and has touched holiday hearts for decades. It’s a classic because it combines learning a life lesson with the love of family and friends (and a cute kid) to spread the warmth of the Holidays to many generations.

Second most mentioned movie, is "Miracle on 34th Street" – the original. A little girl wants to believe in Santa, but her mom is raising her on more practical sentiments. The girl is intrigued by the Santa at Macy’s, a man named Kris Kringle, who tells her he is Santa, which leads to the accusation that Kringle is mentally ill. The movie captures childhood curiosity of Santa as well as the grown up inner child wanting there to be a Santa. Kringle demonstrates that there is good in people and combined with that inner child feeling “Miracle” is a favorite for many – young and old, believers and want-to-be-believers.

Number 3 most listed Christmas movie – "National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation." I was surprised how frequently this one appeared on the Top lists, but I guess people like to keep a sense of humor around the holidays. This is one of my personal favorites because it keeps the National Lampoons style and adds a dash of Christmas cheer (towards the end anyways).

Like "Miracle," "How the Grinch Stole Christmas" has an original and a remake and is #4 on our list. What a perfect villain, the creature that wants to take Christmas away from innocent, weird looking kids. But a terrific lesson is learned - that lots of gifts are not what make up Christmas. It’s that Holiday spirit those Whos down in Whoville (and all of us) have so much of that makes the real meaning of the Holidays. Silly Grinch.

Cable channel TBS makes sure everyone has the opportunity to catch this next film. “A Christmas Story” airs for 24 hours starting December 24th. Why this movie to run for an entire day? Because it’s the epitome of a classic Christmas movie and no one should miss the chance to celebrate with little Ralphie and his family as they count down the days to the big event that is Christmas. Reliving childhood memories of excitement and anticipation to Christmas is something that anyone who celebrates this holiday can relate to. From picking out a tree to writing papers about Christmas in school, to the ever frightening day when you have to sit on Santa’s lap – it’s all there in this movie and even if you don’t celebrate Christmas, it’s a childhood-story movie everyone should see.

Now the more up to date, modern Holiday movies top 5. Drum roll please…

Love Actually – In an opening narration Hugh Grant states that “love is all around us” setting the mood for this touching movie. The many different scenarios “Love” explores is the beauty of this film. Everything from a grieving step father and son, to a crush in the Prime Minister’s office, to love transcending language barriers, to the down falls of marriage, and even two porn stand ins falling into love at first sight (wink). This movie really captures the true meaning of the Holiday season and that’s love and what it means to the human race.

Elf – “Elf” is a Holiday favorite because of real life man-child and star, Will Ferrell, who gets to play throughout the movie (doing what he does best). I mean, is it even possible to resist the full grown Santa-helper? We also get to see the talents of Zooey Deschanel who shows off her singing abilities with a couple of solos.

The Holiday – “The Holiday” features four of the biggest names in the biz – Cameron Diaz and Kate Winslet who portray our leading ladies and Jack Black and Jude Law who are the handsome gentlemen entwined in our story. Getting away from the stresses of life, Winslet and Diaz switch homes – Diaz to wintry England and Winslet to toasty LA. Love, families, and attractive people – what more does a Holiday movie need?

The Polar Express – A bright-eyed child searching for the true spirit of Christmas – could a Christmas movie be any more perfect? Taken on an adventure to the North Pole the main character is joined by other children seeking the same answers and ultimately gets to meet the big man himself - Santa. It’s a night, and lesson, these children will never forget. Plus, Tom Hanks is there, which is just awesome.

Last Holiday – “Last Holiday” is a fun movie, despite the title. It’s also a heart-warming movie about love and living life to the fullest. Diagnosed with multiple brain tumors the main character decides to liquidate her assets and live out the rest of her life by living it up in the Czech Republic. She gets to experience many new adventures and live without money worries or apprehensions. Along the way she inspires many people and, in the end, finds true love – and life. All together now, “aawwww.”

What are some of your favorite Holiday movies?

“Basically, I'm for anything that gets you through the night - be it prayer, tranquilizers or a bottle of Jack Daniels.” – Frank Sinatra
So may the prayers, tranquilizers and JD be with you and see you next time.
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Freelance Writer, Blogger or SEO

Hire Me to Blog, Write or Optimize for You.

Looking for a freelance writer, blogger or search engine optimization professional for your website, newsletter, ezine or other publication? I've mentioned this before, but thought it worth mentioning again - I am now offering by abilities as a freelancer to write, blog or optimize for you. Below are my credentials. My fee is low and I am a quick learner so topics are not limited to just movies, work and AD/HD. Please post a comment to this posting if you are interested and I look forward to working with you.

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Theater Review – “Monty Python's Spamalot”

If there is one musical you see in your lifetime make it “Monty Python's SPAMALOT.” Theater gets a bad rap in the day and age of IMAX and 3D blockbusters, but “Spam” brings to the stage something audiences haven’t seen before, the Finland fish slapping dance. Uh, well, that and more. In an adaptation from “Monty Python and the Holy Grail,” “Spamalot” brings the best of the Monty Python films with the best of musical theater. So take British humor, clever songs, real talent, whimsy and a love story, smoosh it together and you make a Tony award winning show.

“Spamalot” is the tale of King Arthur, his quest to recruit knights, not days, but knights and their adventure to find the Holy Grail as given to them by God’s feet and fulfill all requirements of a Broadway show. Is it a prerequisite to see “Holy Grail” before “Spam”? Only if you want to laugh at the mere mention of the word “Ni” before the punch line, but fear not non-Grail viewers, the comedy is all inclusive and you’ll laugh just the same as the rest of them at the line “It’s just a flesh wound.”

The show is such a great break from the traditional clichéd musical theater (that I know and love having a minor in theater myself). I can’t begin to tell you how terrific it is to sit and relax in a show and not know how the ingénue will be wooed by the hansom and brave main character or other predictable plot points. “Spamalot” even pokes fun at the usual formulas that have created instant recoils at the mere mention of the word “musical.” Just prepare to laugh your bum off at the creative social commentary and hilarious British satire.

I do not consider myself well versed in many things, but musical theater is definitely one of them, so with just good ol’ lots of experience under my belt, I recommend “Spamalot” as a show that anyone, young, old, male, female, nearly dead, French, or otherwise would enjoy. Here’s the link to check its traveling schedule and hope you catch it soon otherwise some French guard might fart in your general direction. So beware and don’t runaway from Monty Python’s “Spamalot.”

“Basically, I'm for anything that gets you through the night - be it prayer, tranquilizers or a bottle of Jack Daniels.” – Frank Sinatra
So may the prayers, tranquilizers and JD be with you and see you next time.

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Dating Advice & Tips - Help!

Where have all the single guys gone?
I’m serious.
Where are they?

The “dating scene” vanishes for those of us in our mid to late 20’s. What do you do when you’re out of college, have had the same friends for years - have met all their friends and their boyfriend’s friends, you’re too old for the club/bar scene, and dating a coworker is out of the question? Where do you meet quality single men?

In some of the books I’ve read (yes, I have bought books about dating) they say just to do the things you love. Well, there’s an issue when what you love is the movies, going out to dinner with friends and family, reading/writing and other solo activities. I can’t help what I love doing, right?

So where do I meet datable guys?

I tried online dating. That was semi successful leading to many great dates, a boyfriend for a short time but nothing substantial. I’ve tried friends setting me up, my parents setting me up, I smile at guys at the grocery store, at the gas pump, while we’re out to eat, whenever. But no luck.

I have a lot to offer. I’m not horrible to look at. I’m college educated, hold a steady job. Manage my own blog and contribute to another website. I freelance, take piano lessons, have a slight TV addiction. I enjoy going to the movies, bowling, trying almost anything once (recently tried ATVing, whitewater rafting and horseback riding – all were great fun!). I’m curious, inquisitive, stubborn, can admit when I’m wrong, able to apologize, etc. I mean – I’m not completely undatable.

So what is it then? Why is it so easy for some and such a struggle for others? Weird, right?

I’m on a treasure hunt and I need your help. I need the advice of anyone reading. I’m open. Where should I go, what should I say, what not to say, etc. Help!

Also, are you in a similar situation, because I feel like the only one? Share your single stories too. Then we can swap tactics and collaborate.

Can’t wait to read the comments!

“Basically, I'm for anything that gets you through the night - be it prayer, tranquilizers or a bottle of Jack Daniels.” – Frank Sinatra
So may the prayers, tranquilizers and JD be with you and see you next time.

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AD/HD Tips & Tricks for Reading, Studying & Other Things That Need Attention

In a recent article released by ADDtude Magazine, they discuss tactics to help ADDers develop reading skills and absorb the information they are reading.

Here’s what can hinder an ADDers' ability to sit and read a book - In a lot of the books I’ve read about AD/HD they mention “blinks” in regards to the inattentiveness aspect of AD/HD. These aren’t visual blinks, but mental blinks that occur all the time and can cut out important information - say - during a lecture or while reading. It’s an involuntary, momentary laps in attention. So it’s not done on purpose and it doesn’t mean that person isn’t trying to pay attention, it just happens on its own.

One way to combat this may be to read in shorter increments. When writing, these blinks can happen too, so make sure you proof read at least one day after writing something or have someone else read it purely for those missed words (that way it doesn’t have to be a person who knows about your topic). When listening to speeches make sure to take notes. Personally, and this certainly isn’t for everyone, I wrote down just about everything my professors would say, almost like a script to make sure I didn’t miss any key words. Or bring a tape recorder so that you can play it back.

One tip I wanted to suggest is reading during commercial breaks. Besides balancing my TV addiction with my school work or a book I’m reading for fun, it breaks up my concentration enough so that I can have vested interest in the book when I come back to it and can sit and absorb the information while watching the TV. Reading in spirts like that I think gives the attention span the variety it’s seeking.

Another way to actively engage your brain in order to absorb information is to type it up. I’ve done this as a means of studying as well as a way to memorize lines for a play. Typing out hand written notes, or whatever it may be, forces you (and your brain) to pay attention TWICE – when reading the information on the page and when typing it out.

In another article called “Getting Things Done the ADD Way” ADDitude mentions some of the following skills:

Daily Action Plan – Make it a routine! If you have trouble remembering to do things (like I do) than writing it down in the same place and checking it regularly can definitely help. Also, get lots of Post Its. I LIVE off of Post Its!

Time Management – Always a struggle for ADDers. ADDitude suggests using a timer or learning to say “No.” Those are great suggestions but also just set an agenda for yourself and follow through. Following through is also rewarding because you’ve accomplished a task and you’ve accomplished time management.

How do you get things done in your AD/HD lifestyle? It’s difficult, I know, so share your tips and tricks!
“Basically, I'm for anything that gets you through the night - be it prayer, tranquilizers or a bottle of Jack Daniels.” – Frank Sinatra
So may the prayers, tranquilizers and JD be with you and see you next time.
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My List of Movie Pet Peeves

The “One Liner” – Oh goodness, probably the worst cliché of them all. Why this has become a staple of all movies, I will never understand. Here are some famous ones “You're terminated, [bleep]er.” “We’re gunna need a bigger boat.” “Snakes, why’d it have to be snakes?” “Say Hello to my little friend.” “Brothers, what we do in life... echoes in eternity.”

Repeating those last few words – “I’ll never let go, Jack. I’ll never let go.” “That’s it, man. Game over, man. Game over.” “We'll get there, Pop. We'll get there.” What is that?! I think it occurs at least once in every movie. It’s for emphasis, but sometimes it’s a line that doesn’t mean a thing and then it just stands out as the one line that’s repeated. Do every day people duplicate what they’re saying for emphasis? It would be funny if they did!

Somebody Always has a Connection Somewhere – This one’s a favorite of mine in thriller movies. There will be some obscure challenge in the way of finishing the mission and one of the characters, even just a random extra, will pipe up with helpful information they read in a magazine or have a family member with a connection. How convenient! I think there should be more Googling of information in movies, let them pull up a Wikipedia article and that’s how they get the needed information.

“Let me tell you my whole plan” speech – Lets set the scene – the bad guy has a hostage or is about to escape and thinking he’s off the hook he tells the good guy (and the audience) why he’s involved in this elaborate, crazy plan. We the audience know its coming and there’s nothing we can do to stop it, but it just pours out of the bad guys mouth like a…well…script!

No Bathroom Breaks – Unless for comedic purposes, do people use the bathroom in the movies? No one gets up after dinner to pee or has to go number 2 when they first wake up in the morning. It just isn’t glamorous enough I guess, but neither is it realistic.

Unrealistic Dwellings – One reason I love movies that take place in NYC so much is the apartments they have the characters live in. No matter what occupation the character supposedly has they always have an amazing place! One recent example is from “My Best Friend’s Girl.” Kate Hudson and her roommate have this INCREDIBLE two story townhouse/apartment thingy! Neither has a hugely important job that they spend a lot of time at, so how can they afford such a place? Oh yeah, I forgot, it’s a movie.

Don’t People Work? – Isn’t it amazing that movies always seem to be taking place on the weekend or other national holiday where everyone has the day off?! It’s rare to see someone worry about spending days and weeks seeking out their one true love or running off to a tropical location without any contact or notification to their offices and they always seem to have plenty of money to spend too.

Parking in the Front – When good guys are chasing bad guys in cars and need to get into a building quickly, they always find a close spot. When the sweet guy wants to surprise his lady, there is always a parking place up front. Where’s the wasting 10 minutes for someone to pull out of spot, or the three trips around the lot before spotting the smallest space in the back. It’s just not fair!

Make up in bed or at the gym – An episode of “Chuck” helped me think of this one. It looks funny when women in the movies are wearing obvious makeup when they first wake up or while they’re at the gym. And I don’t mean the makeup that helps the actors not look shiny or a little bit of eyeliner, but full on lipstick, fake lashes, eye shadow of an unnatural color, etc. I wish it were that easy, it would save a lot of time in the morning getting ready for work, but makeup smears and it’s bad for your skin if you leave it on. So what do women actually do? They take off their make up!

All people know how to use guns and hit their targets – As seen recently in ‘Eagle Eye’, any person, including children can, in a high crisis situation, acquire a random gun, know how to shoot it and hit their intended target. For once, I want to see someone try that in a movie and get knocked on their rear because of the kick back from the gun.

Sports movies have one of two endings – the underdog wins or the underdog looses and learns a lesson – Watching an underdog succeed is a wonderfully uplifting experience…except when it’s predicable from the start of the opening credits. The two possible endings to sports movies are terrible and someone should come up with a new one because the sports’ industry deserves more than a clichéd ending.

Too much is revealed in the trailer – Have you ever seen a trailer for the latest Will Farrell or John C. Riley film and thought it looked hilarious, which peaked your interest in the movie only to be disappointed by the film because all the funny parts were already in the trailer?! It’s just something to expect now a days, along with the disappointment that follows when the movie is ruined for you.

“Basically, I'm for anything that gets you through the night - be it prayer, tranquilizers or a bottle of Jack Daniels.” – Frank Sinatra
So may the prayers, tranquilizers and JD be with you and see you next time.

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“I’m Not There” – Movie Reviews – DVD Edition

I don’t know much about Bob Dylan. Regardless, “I’m Not There” is one of the best biopics and movies I have seen in awhile. Director Todd Haynes takes a Dylan type route and creates a collage of beautiful images that are symbolic and literal to show the singer's career. The DVD offers clever navigation of the film - either by scene or by song. The movie can be appreciated by Dylan fans and non Dylan fans, like myself, because it alone can be admired for the originality, genius and beauty that flashes on the big screen.

- Its One of a Kind-ness: There has never been a movie and/or bio-film like “There.” If you’ve ever read any of my other reviews, you know I’m a HUGE fan of originality, so I just fell in love with “There” because of its unmatched ingenuity. Every aspect, time line, the characters, the narrative style, the writing, all of it, is creative and inspired.

- Don’t Have to Be a Fan: Although, I’m sure the movie makes a lot more sense if you know a little bit about Bob Dylan. I don’t, but adored the film anyway. Along the way there are small subtleties reflective of Dylan’s life, regardless, it is fascinating to watch. You might as well assume it’s about a fictional character and admire it for other things. I found the Wikipedia article most helpful in understanding nuances between what I was seeing and how it correlated to Dylan.

- Not a Real Biopic: Not too many specific details are revealed about the singer’s life. It is more of a kaleidoscope of events and themes that occurred throughout his early career.

- The Acting: 6 actors (all of whom have been nominated and/or won film or acting related awards) are so transformed into the man they represent. I didn’t even recognize Christian Bale at first. They take the spirit of the singer and make a new character out of him to deliver an honest performance.

- Obscurity: “There” is a little out there. It may be difficult to follow and isn’t really meant for the “Transformers” type audience, which is fine! Just know that before hitting the Play button.

- Subtitles: Once again I had to turn on the subtitles to an English speaking movie.

- Needed Help: I did need a little bit of assistance to understand what events were taking place. As mentioned above, the Wikipedia article about the movie is EXTREMELY helpful in deciphering the film.

If you like films with some imagination to them as well as terrific cinematography and a familiar soundtrack, you will love “I’m Not There.” Even if you know nothing about Bob Dylan, like me, you can still enjoy the all star cast and writing. It’s mesmerizing and artistic.

“Basically, I'm for anything that gets you through the night - be it prayer, tranquilizers or a bottle of Jack Daniels.” – Frank Sinatra
So may the prayers, tranquilizers and JD be with you and see you next time.
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Movie Review on DVD – The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford

For a Western, there aren’t a lot of shoot outs, scooping up screaming women, or “high noon” type talk. “Assassination” is more original than that. In fact, it doesn’t much resemble a Western genre movie at all. It’s about obsession over a celebrity. A common word I’ve read in other reviews is “haunting.” I can’t think of any better a word to describe the lives that Ford and James lived. It’s as if Jesse James read the title of the movie and just accepted his fate. Brad Pitt and Casey Affleck star as the fated duo and they take us through a different side of the infamous Jesse James’ life.

- Casey Affleck – we see Ford go from trip-over-yourself, star struck fan to drunk, “what did I do” guilt riddled adult and semi celebrity himself (“semi” being the key word). There is something slightly pathetic about Ford and how he works his way into James’ life. Ford is strategic about getting close and remaining close to his idol and you can see it in Affleck’s expressions as he looks on at Pitt.

- The Cinematography – A common element that is mentioned in just about every review I’ve read. Its recognition is much deserved because the film is beautiful watch. There are effects such as blurring the edges of the screen and leaving the center clear that create an old timey mood as well as the illusion of an insider looking in. This creativity is admirable and in a different way than the admiration for the teams that create such images as the Transformers. Both images are remarkable, but there’s just something about the simplicity of the blurring visual technique that grabs me more than a giant robot.

- Did Jesse See the Movie Title? - As mentioned above, it’s as if James read the title of the movie. He even relates a story to star struck Ford about a fellow who seemed to overly admire James but really wanted to kill him.

- As reviewer Sean O'Connell points out ““Jesse James” rightfully becomes the Robert Ford story.” And I completely agree. The point is to see why Robert Ford shoots James in the back and not in some more dignified, dramatic fashion. It tries to show why he would kill James at all. These questions and more arise as we see the path the outlaws take to their inevitable futures.

- A Different Look at a Legend – When you think of Jesse James you think of train robberies, innocent victims, Wanted posters, etc. But after this movie more is added to the mental image of the bandit. He loved his wife and children. He was smart and knew who his friends and enemies were (or going to be). It’s a fascinating “day in the life” type look at a myth.

- Going Beyond – The film goes beyond Jesse’s death. It is revealed how Ford led a life after he murdered his hero, his idol, his icon. Guilt sets in, he starts to miss the man. He attempts to justify and explain himself by touring in a play about the murder. The narration at the end of the movie is the best part, “There would be no eulogies for Bob, no photographs of his body would be sold in sundries stores, no people would crowd the streets in the rain to see his funeral cortege, no biographies would be written about him, no children named after him, no one would ever pay twenty-five cents to stand in the rooms he grew up in. The shotgun would ignite, and Ella Mae would scream, but Robert Ford would only lay on the floor and look at the ceiling, the light going out of his eyes before he could find the right words.” Summing up the emptiness, the patheticness that was Robert Ford and how he so lamely killed the most notorious outlaw.

- Time – It’s waaaay too long! It took me two days to watch, not because its 48 hours long, but because it was difficult to dedicate a lot of one day to watching the whole thing.

- Subtitles – Yes, it is in English, but the accents are very strong and therefore I had to enable the subtitle button on my remote.

- Getting Lost – Within the extra moments, none that are horribly acted or poorly written, just excessive, your attention wonders. So audiences may feel like they get lost within this film.

It’s worth renting or ordering on Demand. This is a perfect example of what film making, acting, cinematography, script writing and the like is all about. It’s not CG robots or making a sequel for the profit, it’s telling a story. A tale of a haunting life as a celebrity and how, even back in that time, people were fascinated by fame.

“Basically, I'm for anything that gets you through the night - be it prayer, tranquilizers or a bottle of Jack Daniels.” – Frank Sinatra
So may the prayers, tranquilizers and JD be with you and see you next time.
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Movie Reviews – “Eagle Eye”

Contacted by a stranger, Shia LaBeouf and Michelle Monaghan are now considered “activated,” which means they have to complete a series of tasks in order to help the greater good and see their loved ones again. This absurd plot has some well written dialogue and is convincingly acted by the lead and main support cast. I was impressed, I have to say, even though I was continuously thinking “that could never happen.”

- The Acting – Shia LaBeouf rises to the occasion to show audiences a multidimensional character. Not only does he kick some bad guy booty but he also sheds some believable tears. He’s showing real promise especially under the wing of veteran Steven Spielberg. Michelle Monaghan’s “Rachel” is a divorcee with a son. Called to action while out with girlfriends, she’s motivated by the threat of her son being killed. Monaghan is gorgeous (a little too much if you ask me because by the end she’s still got perfect make up on and her hair isn’t flat – amazing how that happens, huh?) as well as genuine.

- Billy Bob Thornton - He adds a lot to the movie (and admittedly I am not a Billy Bob fan) but I liked him here. As the head of the FBI, he doesn’t deliver the conventional formulaic one liners. He has funny lines and delivers them without us laughing at how ridiculous he sounds.

- They Don’t Do it All on Their Own – You know in a movie and Mr. Bob Smith is randomly picked to help with the county’s largest heist, hostage situation, disarming a Presidential assassin, etc and he accomplishes the task unaided and without dying?! Well that doesn’t happen in “Eagle Eye.” Without whoever is on the other end of LaBeouf’s and Monaghan’s phones these two would be in for it. But because the voice controls the traffic lights, arranges for transportations, makes sure they have directions, and other helpful hints, these two actually have a chance at getting to their secret destination.

- The Action – And there’s A LOT of it. Cars flip, explode, cranes move on their own, there’s jumping onto barges, jumping out of buildings onto busy metro tracks, and more. Most of the scenes require a stretch of the imagination, but they are well shot.

- Some Unanswered Questions - The voice on the phone at first refers to Monaghan’s character as “the female” and not by name. LaBeouf’s character makes a point to distinguish how odd that is, yet we never find out why.

- A lot of Innocent People Die – This is another movie pet peeve of mine, where there are just an extraordinary amount of random people who die because of car chases, planes flying through tunnels or bombs intended for someone else. “Eagle Eye” is no exception to that. A lot of those innocent victims are cops in this movie (I’m not saying the movie makers are doing that on purpose or anything – I think it just happened that way), but cop cars are launched in the air left and right, getting rolled over, you name it.

- Can Shoot a Gun – Another pet peeve to add to the list is movie character who have no experience with guns shoot them with accuracy. Even small guns give a lot of kickback and it’s very hard to control. So in movies when people just pick up guns and know how to use them and shoot their intended target and don’t get knocked on their butts, I laugh (quietly and to myself). But it takes any sort of realism out of the situation.

- The Action – As mentioned above, there’s a lot of it and with a cast of great actors, some of their talent goes to waste because they’re constantly shushed by the concentration it takes to shoot a moving vehicle, jump out of a car, evade the enemy, and other “look but don’t speak” conditions.

Unique Qualities:
- The Characters – LaBeouf’s character could just be your everyday 20 something year old slacker, rebellious guy, but he’s not. Monaghan’s character could just be another “feeling guilty” single mom, but she’s not. Thorton’s character could be as cliché as CSI Miami’s David Caruso, but he’s not.

In the end, I found myself wondering “What crazy, outrageous thing could happen next?” as opposed to “Wow, I wonder where this story is going.” That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but “Eagle Eye” did leave a little to be desired with its lack of a cohesive, semi-plausible plot.

Are the stunts outrageous? Is there a real plot to this film? What did you think?

“Basically, I'm for anything that gets you through the night - be it prayer, tranquilizers or a bottle of Jack Daniels.” – Frank Sinatra
So may the prayers, tranquilizers and JD be with you and see you next time.
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“My Best Friends Girl” – Movie Review

“Good Luck Chuck” meet “How to Loose a Guy in 10 Days” – you two will get along and make a baby and call it “My Best Friend’s Girl.” “Girl” stars Dane Cook, Kate Hudson and Jason Biggs playing the same characters as every other movie we’ve seen them in. Yes, it’s funny, in a very vulgar way, I confess I laughed, but the rest of the film is uninspiring and pretty insulting to women. There are overly romantic, could-never-happen-in-real-life moments as well as bland dialogue with the exception of some jokes. Overall, this is really a wait until its on cable type of movie.

It’s funny – kind of: I really like Kate Hudson and Dane Cook and I like them together, but man, I wish they had done a different movie. The potential is there for them to make a great flick together. I like “How to Loose a Guy…” and I REALLY like “Mr. Brooks” where Cook doesn’t play the usual comedic lead, he actually acts, seriously and is pretty good at it. This pair does have chemistry too, so hopefully they will try again, just with a better story.

Alec Baldwin – This was a pleasant surprise. Although, I could have done without his description of a certain escapade with his secretary the night before. He’s a talented comedic actor and brings a different element to the film. Portraying Cook’s character’s father, his character gives the audience an insight into the behavior of Dane Cook’s character.

The story – It’s cliché, it’s been done a handful of times and it’s just unoriginal. The end isn’t a surprise, and neither are the events that lead to it. The only surprises are the words each actor says and the ridiculous stunts Dane Cook pulls to push women away.

The Dialogue – Boring, only funny because of the shock, offensive, etc.

Unique Qualities:

I’m not sure if I would even recommend this film for video. Sorry. I love Kate Hudson, she’s cute and funny! Dane Cook’s standup it terrific, wonderful social commentary! Jason Biggs is vulnerably adorable in every thing he makes. Alec Baldwin is a comedic genius on 30 Rock. So it doesn’t make sense why this movie sucked so badly. I’m terribly disappointed and once this posting is up I’m going to forget I even saw this movie.

What did you guys think of it? Was it really that funny and I’m just loosing my sense of humor or something?
“Basically, I'm for anything that gets you through the night - be it prayer, tranquilizers or a bottle of Jack Daniels.” – Frank Sinatra
So may the prayers, tranquilizers and JD be with you and see you next time.
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Movie Reviews – “Burn After Reading”

I saw “Burn After Reading” before “No Country for Old Men” (I know, it’s a shame it took so long) but seeing “No Country” helped explain some of the aspects of “Reading” that caught me off gaurd. The Cohen Brothers certainly have an imagination, don’t they? “Reading” is a goofy tale acted out by some of our favorite serious actors and I just love that, ya know. This hilarious ensemble flick is as good as they come these days with talented crew from the editing room to the extras. Beware though, all is not funny in the world of Cohen, but the surprises make a second trip to the theater to see “Burn After Reading” worth the extra money.

The Cohen Brothers – I think I’m an official fan. They are great with humor and violence as well as catching you off gaurd (I wonder if one brother is more violent/funny than the other?). There is always a certain off balance aspect to their films too, making them so distinctive.

The laughs – There’s a lot of them, some that aren’t in the trailers either. Go figure!

The cast – Brad Pitt’s hair is great, well, and, yeah, so is he. He doesn’t say a whole lot but it doesn’t matter, he’s still a big personality in this tale. George Clooney is the most complex character – happily married/cheating on his wife, wants to please everyone/chronic liar, creative & can built things/destroying his life. His is the most interesting storyline. This is possibly the most angry role for John Malkovich that I’ve ever seen, yet somehow still hilarious like when he stands up to his boss and in shock and pissed off confusion and blurts out “WHAT THE (BLEEP) IS GOING ON HERE?”, which ends up being the theme of the movie. Tilda Swinton plays cold and sexy very well and leaves the question “Why is Malkovich’s character married to her in the first place? She’s kind of a (“b” word).” And Frances McDormand, our leading lady who could lead any comedy with her wide eyed banter. She’s sweet and likable and very funny. She makes head slapping mistakes without the obvious and squeamish mishaps seen in movies like “Meet the Parents.”

The Surprises – Have I mentioned how much I love when huge plot lines AREN’T revealed in the trailers? And I wonder how many times I’ve said “surprises” in this review.

The Ending – It ends with head of Malkovich’s CIA department stating something to the effect of “I don’t know what just happened,” which is what the movie feels like by the end.

The chair – there is a devise introduced briefly in the middle of the movie and it just throws the whole pace of the movie off. It’s so random, that I remained bewildered for the rest of the movie and completely changed the good way I was feeling about it (it later redeems itself, but at that moment and for a few after, I was completely put off by it.)

The F Bomb – Again, the overuse of the “f word” gets annoying by the time the credits roll.

Unique Qualities:
It is undeniably a story never heard or seen before and one of the most important characteristics of a “good movie” is originality. “Reading” certainly steps up to the plate. It’s a “need to see it twice” kind of movie simply because of the surprises. Personally, they threw me off and I wasn’t able to laugh at that time because I was recovering from the shock.

In the end, yes it’s violent, yes it’s hilarious and how can anyone not check out a movie with such an incredible cast with such reputable writers and directors? In comparison to a lot of the other movies that are out right now, this one is better than most and ranks in my top 3 of current films.

Do you think the surprises are too over the top? Did they catch you off guard like they did me? Comment, please, even if it doesn’t answer those questions :)
“Basically, I'm for anything that gets you through the night - be it prayer, tranquilizers or a bottle of Jack Daniels.” – Frank Sinatra
So may the prayers, tranquilizers and JD be with you and see you next time.
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Great Movie Remakes

The “remake” is an interesting entity. It can either be a great revival of an old classic or it can be a total disgrace to a wonderful film. Either way, remakes allow the creative people involved to update or refresh appealing storylines and plots. Some argue that there’s no creativity in remakes and I can understand that point of view, however, it does take major innovative thinking to revive old films and make them relevant for today’s movie goers.

Some of the Good Ones:
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (2005) – Modernized with a darker look into Willy Wonka’s life, Tim Burton recreates the chocolate waterfall, the gum that tastes like dinner, Oompa-Loompas, sorting animals, and all the memorable iconic items from the original movie without making a duplicate film. What more could you ask for? The original 1971’s “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory” stared Gene Wilder.

Dawn of the Dead (2004) – With the basic plot same as the original, survivors of a zombie attack hold up in a mall. This recent version takes on a more video game feel than its predecessor welcoming a classic screamer flick into the modern age. The original was released in 1978 and is considered one of the best horror films ever made.

The Departed (2006) - A remake of a Hong Kong movie, Departed, with good reason (a cast staring Leonardo DiCaprio, Jack Nicholson, Matt Damon and Mark Wahlberg, directed by Martin Scorsese), won Best Picture and Best Director Academy Awards in 2007. The Hong Kong original “Internal Affairs” was released in 2002.

I am Legend (2007) - In general, the story is the same as the two original movies, Robert Neville is the only man (he knows of) immune to a disease turning everyone into zombies. The details, such as setting up manikins and the zombies being deformed with see-through skin differ from the other films, but the fight to survive a daily deadly enemy and battling the loneliness are still the main storylines. The first movie, 1964’s “The Last Man on Earth,” was an Italian film starring Vincent Price and the 1971 version “The Omega Man” starred Charlton Heston.

The Italian Job (2003) - It’s noted that this particular remake differs greatly from the original with the exception of the mini cooper. Both films have more of a romanticized view of the crime world in the respective cities they are set in. The original released in 1969 was poorly received in America, with the remake being the bigger success of the two.

King Kong (2005) - A monumental film based on an even more monumental film. There’s just something about King Kong that’s larger than life. Even if critics didn’t reflect too positively on the film and even if box office numbers were low, there is nothing larger than “King Kong.” The original released in 1933 made huge waves in the special effects field, especially for that era.

The Manchurian Candidate (2004) - Revered by a lot of critics as a terrific reimagining, this version holds true to the founding idea that manipulation and brainwashing are influencing this particular political race. However, the modern version doesn’t leave the audience wondering about brainwashing, it’s outright with it, but is mysterious with other conspiracy strategies. Originally a movie in 1962 starring Frank Sinatra and Laurence Harvey had communists at the core instead of the right wing versus the left in the updated version.

Ocean’s Eleven (2001) - Another reimagining with roots grounded into the main theme of multiple Las Vegas casino heists, this crime caper flick offers an all star cast (just as the first movie did), but, most notably offers a very different ending than the original. Fun and frolic ensue in this updated Rat Pack movie making it my personal favorite on the list. The 1960’s version starred the Rat Pack who on occasion got to showcase their singing (and lady charming) abilities.

Planet of the Apes (2001) - Receiving mostly negative reviews when it premiered in 2001, this remake was a disappointment, but lands on the "Good" list because it is such a known remake. Part of that disappointment had to be from recreating an already iconic film. Again, the endings differ between the remake and the first film, but the remake stuck more to the book that the movies were based on. The original in 1968 starred Charlton Heston and was a ground breaking film for its use of makeup and other special effects.

Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street (2007) - A bloody musical based on a theatrical musical based on a play based on an old movie based on an urban legend – with that type of history it’s no wonder Benjamin Barker and cronies turn out so odd. This version of the film is almost completely different in that the original was not a musical and the lead character (named Tod Slaughter) was a villain, not a broken man with revenge in his heart. Both films were positively received by critics and audiences. The original film was released in 1936.

War of the Worlds (2005) - Wikipedia states that the 2005 version isn’t an actual remake, but when reading a description of the 1953 movie, the main themes are definitely the same. Taking “mass destruction, fleeing masses of refugees, the failure of humans to stop the invasion, and the final death of the Martians from bacterial infection” from the H.G. Wells story, Steven Spielberg takes the audience on a fight to survive - “I don’t know what to do” thrill ride. Some differences between the two films are the locations and the main characters. Both films were hugely successful and were relevant to “war” situations around the time of their debut.

And the Bad:
Yes, we must (briefly) discuss some of the bad remakes that have been created in recent years.

When a Stranger Calls (2006) - Staring Camilla Belle, the remake is considered bad and it differs from the original in that the source of the scary calls is revealed too soon (and by that I mean it’s revealed in the trailers). The original was released in 1979.

The Wicker Man (2006) - Again, a remake of an already very highly regarded film – it only sets things up for disappointment. The original was released in 1973.

Bad News Bears (2005) - This film held pretty closely to the original but was still a box office strikeout (pun intended). The original was released in 1976.

The Fog (2005) - Veering far from the course of the original, the scare factor just wasn’t so clear for this remake. The original was released in 1980.

House of Wax (2005) - Gore for gore’s sake (and Paris Hilton) although wax figurines will always be a little creepy, this was a bomb of a movie. The original was released in 1953.

School for Scoundrels (2006) - Two different endings - guess which one was better (and British)? The original, “School for Scoundrels or How to Win Without Actually Cheating,” was released in 1960.

The Time Machine (2002) - This love story version received not ALL bad reviews, but seemed to be more sappy-ish than time travel wonder-ish. The original was released in 1960.

“Basically, I'm for anything that gets you through the night - be it prayer, tranquilizers or a bottle of Jack Daniels.” – Frank Sinatra
So may the prayers, tranquilizers and JD be with you and see you next time.
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Summer Movie Wrap Up

Labor Day has come and gone and that means the summer movie season is at an official end. This was a terrific season full of incredible blockbusters defying records left and right. This summer’s box office total came in at $4.2 billion, according to Media by Numbers, which is up slightly from last year. Some of the top performing films included "The Dark Knight," "Iron Man," "Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull," "Hancock," and "Wall E." This is an interesting mix of movies. The top two both broke box office records placing them at #1 and #2 of the 2008 total gross charts. We also got to see the long awaited Indiana Jones sequel.

Out of the top 10 summer movies, 4 were based on comic books (last year there were only 3 in the top 10). The top 10 was also comprised of 3 comedies – 2007 had 4. There were 2 fully animated films this summer compared to 3 during 2007. And let’s not forget the family friendly films (those rated PG or G) – 2008 brought us 3 something-for-everyone flicks.

So, who in Hollywood ended up with the biggest sand castles (the most sand on their beach)? Surprisingly, Paramount, who is not the studio for the Dark Knight. Paramount did however produce/distribute three, count them THREE, of the top 10 grossing summer movies: Iron Man, Kung Fu Panda and Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.

A couple actors faired particularly well by gracing the silver screen in two summer hits each. Robert Downey Jr., Tony Stark himself, appeared in both Iron Man and Tropic Thunder (although not technically a top grossing summer movie because it’s only been out for three weeks, but it is definitely a memorable 2008 summer movie). But Morgan Freeman deserves the honorable mentions award for appearing in both the Dark Knight and Wanted (2 of the top 10 grossing films this summer)!

Some of the movies that flopped this summer include The Love Guru, Speed Racer, You Don’t Mess with the Zohan, The Happening, The X Files, and The Clone Wars, just to name a few.

After an invigorating summer of fun films, the fall and holiday movie season is upon us, which means its time to get serious, Oscar serious. Let’s see how the holiday movies do up against Tony Stark and Bruce Wayne - let those box office games begin.

“Basically, I'm for anything that gets you through the night - be it prayer, tranquilizers or a bottle of Jack Daniels.” – Frank Sinatra
So may the prayers, tranquilizers and JD be with you and see you next time.

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"Hamlet 2" Movie Review

One would think that a musical based on a Shakespearian play in which most the characters die at the end would be, in a word, impossible. But that would just be plain pessimistic according to Dana Marschz a high school drama teacher in Tucson, AZ and the main character of “Hamlet 2” the movie and the play. Played by British funnyman Steve Coogan (also seen in this summer’s “Tropic Thunder”), Marschz is an enthusiastic thespian just trying to inspire his students and make ends meet at home (one effort for saving money – roller skating to work). Hamlet 2 offers a cast full of comedic actors as well as some funny and touching moments that aren’t quite up to the “Waiting for Guffman” level but bring a modern take on ye ol’ theater and inspirational movie.

- The cast – I love it when big name stars are ok with playing small rolls because making a movie good doesn’t always mean being the lead. For example, Catherine Keener as Mrs. Marschz puts on an understated portrayal of a fed up, slightly dramatic wife. Next is David Arquette in the quietest role of his career. I think he says maybe 3 lines, but that’s the genius in it. Our third star is the always hilarious Amy Poehler as a tiny, aggressive lady ready to fight for the first amendment and shows up when Hamlet 2 is threatened to be shut down due to offensive material. And last, my favorite, Elizabeth Shue who plays… Elizabeth Shue, jaded and happy to be out of the movie business.

- It’s a modern update done well – think cliché “teacher inspires the street kids” turned funny and slightly non-p.c.

- The play within the movie – Having a play within a movie just makes everything so much better. With the city of Tucson wanting to shut the play “Hamlet 2” down due to offensive material, as an audience member, you know it’s gotta be good. The play opens with a song about the most unsavory line in the movie and thus delivers the laughs you’ve been anticipating.

- The language – here is where Guffman and team step it up a notch, there’s no need for excessive f-bombs and such for laughs, but unfortunately, this is a vehicle used in Hamlet 2. And frankly, it’s a vehicle I’m a little tired of (not just in Hamlet 2).

- Some things just don’t make sense – like that the schoolboard is mad about the content of the play, but never mentions that students are taken out of class to go to Dave and Busters, or that a teacher is found half naked in a field coming off of acid. Riiight.

Unique Qualities:
The “inspiration” plays genuine – I am not one for seeing the same old tired movies, which is what I find occurs in most inspirational movies. However, Hamlet 2 is a nice modern update and the sincerity in the students as well as the teacher plays on the same level as the rest of the film. No one’s lives are drastically changed forever because of this one play, but they team together and get the job done motivating each other to the finish and learning a little something along the way.

In the end Hamlet 2 is a fun and light hearted comedy with a cast that really makes this ensemble film complete. It’s a unique twist on the inspirational teach flick and is definitely worth seeing (even if you wait for DVD).

What did you think of Hamlet 2? What the language a bit much? Does Coogan have a future here in America?

“Basically, I'm for anything that gets you through the night - be it prayer, tranquilizers or a bottle of Jack Daniels.” – Frank Sinatra
So may the prayers, tranquilizers and JD be with you and see you next time.

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Pretty in Spectacles

In real life, a lot of women (and people in general) wear glasses (I’m one of them). However, in the movies, they aren’t that common. So after a lot of research, I found a few really good examples. To add to the cause of getting more glasses on actresses in movies I just want to say that if Harry Potter can make 8 movies wearing glasses, then any woman can too. Here’s the list of some of the great female movie characters who have already sported the everyday accessory!

Scarlett Johansson as Sondra Pransky in Scoop with the quirky look.

Julia Roberts as Kiki Harrison in America’s Sweethearts with the “girl next door” look.
Nia Vardalos as Toula Portokalos in My Big Fat Greek Wedding.
Meg Ryan as Sally Albright in When Harry Met Sally with the classically uptight look.
Nicole Kidman as Silvia Broome in The Interpreter with the professional look.
Meryl Streep as Miranda Priestly in The Devil Wears Prada with the super chic look.

Uma Thurman as Jenny Johnson in My Super Ex Girlfriend.

Daryl Hannah as Annelle Dupuy Desoto in Steel Magnolias.
Tina Fey as Kate Holbrook in Baby Mama as the “Tina Fey” look.

Reese Witherspoon as Elle Woods in Legally Blonde being Super Chic.

Jennifer Garner as Sandra in Pearl Harbor.
Tara Reid as Aline Cedrac in Alone in the Dark.
Lacey Chabert as Jenny in Daddy Day Care.
Kristin Davis as Charlotte York in Sex and the City with the modern uptight look.
Christine Taylor as Matilda Jeffries in Zoolander.
Amy Adams as Susan in Talladega Nights.
Hope Davis as Joyce Brabner in American Splendor with the loveable nerd look.
Michelle Pfeiffer as Claire Spencer in What Lies Beneath with the sexy librarian look.
Queen Latifah as Nina Brewster in Mad Money.

Did I leave anyone off? Are you ready for more women to sport some sexy RX shades in movies?

“Basically, I'm for anything that gets you through the night - be it prayer, tranquilizers or a bottle of Jack Daniels.” – Frank Sinatra
So may the prayers, tranquilizers and JD be with you and see you next time.
Read more!


The Positives to Having ADD

Learning and knowing one’s personal strengths is important whether you have AD/HD or not. Understanding Attention Deficit Disorder can help offset some of the negative aspects of the disorder, but who wants to talk about that? Not me, not right now anyway! So, instead, here is a list of some of the positive personality characteristics and traits that those of us with ADD or ADHD bring to our lives, our friends and families and our work environments.

Creativity – most articles about the positive traits associated with ADD mention creativity. That’s because it’s true! Creativity is seen in a variety of ways, be it through humor, inventive ideas, writing, design, etc. In a work environment, thinking outside the box (which is not a very “outside the box” way of saying it), is appreciated. Unconventional thinking and new points of view are great for everyone involved because this enables fresh ideas to work their way into conventional situations. The ADDA-SR web site says that people with ADD “can find success in most fields utilizing creativity, mechanical, technical and service-oriented jobs.”

Problem Solving Skills – We’re inquisitive, perceptive and original thinkers, so we are at our best when trying to solve problems. Are you the go to person for your friends or family when they have problems? I am! And I love it! The ability to be helpful due to astute troubleshooting skills makes us great helpers (we just have to work on our listening skills sometimes).

Brain Storming – A rapid fire thought process combined with creativity make a great comedian or improve actor (i.e.: Robin Williams). Whether they are good or bad, we can come up with lots of ideas in one sitting if inspired. We can keep conversations going due to fast paced thinking or what I call the “Domino” effect.

Multitasking – my claim to fame. Yes, I am the Queen of multitasking. As long as we can follow through, working on multiple tasks at once is one way we fight boredom, but for others, it’s a way to get us to be productive. “To Do” lists are quite helpful here (and I’m the Queen of those as well, in addition to being the Queen of Post It Notes).

Flexibility – if you’re used to doing more than one thing at once, it’s nothing to just pick up and do another. Unless you’re like me and you like your schedule, ADDers are probably the ones to give the less grief about a major change of plans.

Quick Learner – This one is a little iffy, because it depends on the type of learning going on. I think with most ADDers it is hands on or interactive learning that makes information stick right away. You show us what to do and we can do it. This also includes learning from mistakes, which, personally, is how I learn the best (sometimes this is not such a good thing though).

Quirky – As Mary Jane Johnson wrote in her article “Eight Ways to Handle Impulsivity” – she mentions that ADD people can get “overly excited” which is definitely a quirk of mine! But this is a good thing – we bring uniqueness and positivity to situations. An article on the ADDA-SR site says that another quirk is that “feelings are expressed openly and actively. Impulsivity and activity are expressed. One with this type of ADD can usually succeed in sales, entertainment, entrepreneurship, or another fields utilizing quickness and high energy.” So we bring energy and excitement to everyone’s lives. Woohoo!

We seek “high-stimulus situations” - Edward M. Hallowell says that this characteristic can get people in trouble, but can work to our advantage by making us high energy and highly productive (http://www.add.org/articles/whats_it_like.html). But we are also attuned to the fact that the situation is high stimulus, bringing in a multitude of other special personality traits such as “See[ing] unique relationships between people and things” according to Suite 101 writer Darcy Andries. This is certainly one of my stronger, positive characteristics.

Hyper-focusing – “One with this type of ADD can usually succeed in the military, accounting, or another field utilizing computers and attention to detail and precision.” (ADDA-SR). Thank goodness for hyper-focusing! We are great multitaskers but in our attempt to overcome a lack of attention span we’ve somehow developed an ability to over compensate occasionally too. However, in situations that require exactness and remarkable attention to detail, we can really shine and show off our skills. It's great!

What are your positive personality traits as someone with AD/HD? Do you have the ones mentioned above or none of them?

“Basically, I'm for anything that gets you through the night - be it prayer, tranquilizers or a bottle of Jack Daniels.” – Frank Sinatra
So may the prayers, tranquilizers and JD be with you and see you next time.

Read more!