See It: Rock of Ages

Loved this movie. Stand-out performances, soundtrack, and comedy make it work. Photo/poster credit: IMDb

Last night one of my girlfriends and I escaped our families for a spell. After enjoying a peaceful dinner without interruptions or requests for more drinks or food, we went to see Rock of Ages in the IMAX at our local AMC 30 Theatres.

Peer and press reviews told us to beware: it’s a mega cheese fest. So, along with the four others in the audience, we sat back and were transported back in time to the ’80s — the decade of big hair, manufactured “boy” bands, and heavy metal vs. rigid church folk.

While the film was a mega cheese fest, it was a hilarious look at what made the ’80s so decadent. Also, the soundtrack includes hits from bands (Foreigner, Pat Benatar, Def Leppard, Poison, Guns ‘N Roses, Motley Crue, Journey, etc.) that carried the look, sound and antics all have come to associate with that era. Finally, Tom Cruise, Alec Baldwin, Russell Brand and Paul Giamatti gave stand-out performances. Without giving too much away the duet Baldwin and Brand perform was dead-on, hilarious; and one of many scenes some reviewers just didn’t “get”. Audience members with minimal expectations, a desire to be entertained, and a history with the ’80s should come away from this film with a hankering to see it a second time (like me).

My commentary and links to other Rock of Ages reviews …

Steve Ouellette’s movie review for the Press-Republican, calls the original tracks from many of the musicians covered (Def Leppard, Poison, Joan Jett, Pat Benatar, Journey, Foreigner, Bon Jovi, etc.) to be pretty terrible. All I can say is that I was singing right along with the movie. Perhaps my ability to be objective is tainted from being a proud and long-time fan of all the said talents. Further, Ouellette suggests renting the movie, Rock Star, as an alternative. Quite frankly, the only element of Rock Star I liked was Brian Vander Ark’s turn as Ricki Bell. Vander Ark was lead vocals and principal songwriter for The Verve Pipe during the years I spent at Western Michigan University. My Western Herald peers and I attended many of their concerts; and some are fortunate to continue following this band as it continues to evolve.

Amy Biancolli, SF Gate (Home of San Francisco Chronicle) and Lisa Giles-Keddie (europe.real.com), came away with the same feelings I did.  I thoroughly Cruise’s Stacie Jaxx. Say what you may. But, Cruise is a talent at playing characters with over-the-top, egotistical personas. His Jaxx kept reminding me of his Lestat in Interview with a Vampire. Also, I identified with these reviewers’ appreciation for what the movie was … a parody of “bygone era.” I sang along to all the hits covered in the movie and got a belly-ache laughing through the duet Alec Baldwin and Russell Brand perform.

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One Word Wednesday

Smokin’

Just saw this tonight. More on that tomorrow when I write my See It post. Photo/poster credit: IMDb

Related previous posts …

One Word Wednesday: Chaotic

Creative Forces: Gotta Love Johnny Depp

Jonny Depp as Captian Jack Sparrow in Madame T...
Jonny Depp as Captian Jack Sparrow in Madame Tusauds in London, taken in June 2007. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I am not one to post much about celebrities. It’s just not my realm of expertise. Further, I’m a bit removed from identifying with those who live to chase, take shots, jabs or whatever to sell gossip. While on a stakeout to investigate my son and his behavior issues at school, he spied me within 30 minutes of me being assigned to my post. So, I would get a big fail as a spy or paparazzi member.

But, I am not above giving kudos to creative forces in film who make watching movies an incredible experience. So, I might as well lead with my all-time favorite, who never disappoints me in any film he carries or supports. That would by Johnny Depp. I really revel in his ability to study and become the characters he portrays. While this little sneak-peek at his Tonto look does come off as a bit too much like his Jack Sparrow, I still think it’s a notable transformation. I am waiting with eager anticipation to see The Lone Ranger.

http://www.usmagazine.com/entertainment/news/the-lone-ranger-johnny-depp-explains-bizarre-tonto-makeup-2012254

See It: Moneyball

Brad Pitt‘s character, Billy Beane, in the movie Moneyball, reminds me a little of my dad. Like me, my dad is a Detroit sports fan. But, when it comes to watching the teams he supports on television, he just can’t do it. Unlike Billy, he is okay with watching live games. But, for some reason he just can’t sit still in his easy chair — at home — and watch. He says his nerves get shot from all the anxiety surrounding the outcome of the games.

When I selected this movie, I had that movie Hoosiers playing in my head. Remember that one about the underdog high school basketball team, starring Gene Hackman. It is one of my favorites because it is a great story about how a coach brings a dysfunctional, losing  team to greatness.

While Moneyball followed a similar storyline, what I gained from watching was a better appreciation for what it takes to be a great leader. Through Pitt’s performance I noted three reasons Beane is such a great example to those striving for success. He takes risks, cuts through the chase, and keeps the faith in his beliefs.

I’m sure most would agree with me, it is not easy to

take risks due to fear of the unknown and fear of failure. The outcome from any decision — even those that carry little risk — can be disastrous. But, without taking situations stagnate or decline; nothing improves because nothing changes. Beane succeeded because he took risks with hiring undervalued — but talented — players to replace all-star, celebrated performers. He knew these decisions could have ended his career. But, he needed to win baseball games. And, if he wasn’t going to do what was required to win, what was the point in continuing as general manager of the Oakland A’s?

cut through the chase because taking swift, decisive action requires a tough skin. One can’t be fearful of ruffling feathers or hurting feelings.  Beane knew all-star players from his team needed to be traded or sent back down to the minors. Making these changes to the team’s roster challenged his relationships with other Oakland A leaders and with the players. But, he had a job to do. He had to win baseball games; and he traded and dismissed in order win. Business is business.

keep the faith in your beliefs because outside influences challenge them constantly. Even those whom we consider to be close, trustworthy, and knowledgeable can get us on a path to second-guessing our choices. It is important to listen to and consider opposing viewpoints because the intent is to help; and sometimes there is value to the insight. But, there are times when one has to continue listening to that inner voice and to trust in one’s own knowledge and ability. Beane stayed the course. The result: The Oakland A’s won baseball games; lots of baseball game; and the Red Sox wanted to hire him so they could reap the same success.

So, on that note, the Detroit Tigers face the Boston Red Sox on Opening Day at Comerica Park, next week on April 5. Go Tigers!

When I See Something I Like

On days when I am outta my writer’s chair, sometimes I see things such as movies, television shows, live theatrical or musical performances, and crazy stuff in my neighborhood. Most of the time, I just go on my way after seeing a movie or show. But, every now and then, I feel like sharing my opinion when I really like something.

So, that’s why I’m adding this category. Maybe you’ll agree with my posts; maybe you won’t.

Who knows? Maybe my posts will prompt you to check something out you might have passed up otherwise. That happens to me. I read and listen to suggestions.

Anyway, look for my post about the movie, Moneyball, tomorrow morning. I know. It’s already on pay-per-view. But, you know how it is. Too much to do, too little time. But, please check it out and leave a comment or two. I love to chat.

What I Meant to Write: Yesterday’s Post

I meant to write this post yesterday. But, then I cleaned the house during the morning hours. My five-year-old, son, Riff, was willing to help me make beds, sweep the floor and vacuum. So, how could I not oblige him. I take help when I have it.

Then, morning turned into afternoon. Riff got on the bus for school. I managed to write the title for my post, What I Learned Today. Also, I scanned the Internet looking for some stuff to learn. Did you learn anything, yesterday?  I did.

A woman filed a claim against Starwood Hotels. She was allegedly, sexually assaulted while staying at one of the hotel’s properties in Finland. The commentary following articles about this lawsuit are as interesting as the story itself. I have never been impressed during any of my stays at their hotels.

But, instead of writing, I walked the dog, ate second lunch, read a few pages from John Sallis‘ What You Have Left: The Turner Trilogy on my Kindle, and shared some love with Your Shape on my XBox.

Afternoon turned into evening. Issa and Riff were both home from school now. My duties now involved officiating television time, playing games online, making dinner and getting ready for an evening meeting at church.

For the record, I did not play Angry Bird. The games I played were for educational purposes at this fun and excellent website, http://www.starfall.com. I learned it has reading- and language-skill games to help elementary-age children improve literacy. I was nicely pleased to see Issa spend about 30 minutes playing around here as well.

Then, you know what happened? Afternoon turned into evening; and then evening into night. I came home from my meeting at eight and waited to claim the television from my husband.

While waiting I learned Mitt Romney won the New Hampshire GOP primary, but with only 39.3-percent of the vote. Also, David Fincher’s The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, is getting positive press. Friends from my blogging and neighborhood networks all say its better than expected. My husband and I have a date night scheduled for Saturday, which may include a movie. I’m trying to decide between this one and Sherlock Holmes.

After claiming the television I watched a couple on-demand episodes of Once Upon a Time, ABC’s new show about fairy-tale characters caught in limbo between reality and fantasy. I re-learned about characters such as Snow White, Prince Charming, and Rumpelstiltskin.

So, what I meant to write yesterday at 9, didn’t happen until now. Stay tuned for today’s post…

365: Weekends and Sick Days

Fever-Ravaged Weekend

It all started on Friday with Riff. He took the day off from school to battle a bad cough, runny nose and his newly-organized closet. Riff is not the easiest patient because he refuses to nap when he feels yucky. This translates into cranky, wrecking-ball-like behavior. Hence, the closet I spent cleaning last week, now looks like the Tasmanian Devil ripped a good one in there.

After running all over the place with me, Saturday, Issa started showing signs of illness. I pulled out the thermometer. 102.7 degrees. Go figure. I had just made reservations for she and Riff to hunt Easter eggs at our local nature center on Sunday afternoon. Admittedly, Issa’s quick turn for the couch and her favorite movies blindsided me. Earlier, she performed her gymnastics routines with zeal and enjoyed reading about the solar system during a visit to the library.

In addition to the egg hunt, our fun-packed Sunday plans had included dinner with my parents. It was sad to postpone this date because Grandma and Grandpa have been in Florida since the end of February.

Sick Monday Giggles

Hot temperatures were not exactly raging outside our home. In fact, we received about two inches of wet snow. But, inside, Issa’s fever spiked along with her interest in procuring a metal detector.

While eating lunch, Issa was watching Journey to the Edge of the Universe. A metal detector advertisement comes on and prompts Issa to ask if I want one. I tell her no. Issa then says she’ll need to figure out how to get one. In other words, a plan is in the works for attempted parental manipulation. I can see it now. The rush is on to unearth the riches of beer cans and bottle caps at Stoney Creek Metro Park this summer.

Defiance Test Review

The “professor” evaluated my solution for problem #3 on that Defiance Test I am taking. So far, it looks like a viable solution. Issa came home with two days of “good” behavior reports from her teacher. I know my husband and I have more problems to solve on this test. But, at least, we earned a break and can move forward to the next problem.

Thoughts About Jobs and Parenting

Last night, my husband and I helped my daughter prepare a show-and-tell presentation for her first grade class. The presentation was about the jobs we have, how these jobs help our community, and the tools we most often use to perform our job functions.

About The Jobs. First, we are parents. Secondly, my husband is also an electrical manufacturing engineer for GM and I am a writer. As parents, we love, teach, nurture, comfort, cook, clean, organize, play, discipline, and help our children explore their world. As a dad, my husband teaches our children how to build model cars and how to launch rockets. He also wakes on Saturdays at 7:00 am to make pancakes and watch movies with them. As a mom, I comfort our children when they’re puking pizza or having nightmares. Also, I host play dates and go on magic quests. At GM, my husband researches and develops advanced technology, parts and processes for passenger cars and trucks. I have written hundreds of new business development proposals as well as copy for marketing materials, which helped small and large business owners gain new clients.

Helping Our Community. As parents, we help our children participate as positive, active, and informed members of our local, state, national and global communities. We do this by encouraging interests, fostering strengths, and practicing what is learned in school. My husband’s contributions at GM help the automaker develop affordable, energy-efficient vehicles to reduce oil dependence and to save the planet. Writing enables me to inform, to advocate, and to share with the goal of helping others.

The Tools. As parents, our tool is a TLC-kit, which is at the ready at ALL times. It contains a phone, calendar, tasty health food, good books, music, toys, a computer, camera, pen, money, car keys, and adventure plans. The tools my husband uses at GM are innovation, a solid work ethic, a love for technology, intelligence, adaptability, eagerness for learning, and top-notch social skills. My writer tools mirror many of those in the TLC-kit; and a brain that does not have an off-switch.