Showing posts from October, 2014

Movie Review: Nightcrawler

Nightcrawler looked to be an intriguing premise from its trailer, but it turned out to be maybe the best movie I've seen in quite some time, largely thanks to Jake Gyllenhaal's performance in it. This is perhaps the first time I've seen him play a creepy and dislikeable character, and, surprisingly, he excels at it.

Louis Bloom (Gyllenhaal) lives in a tiny apartment in the L.A. area, and is in need of money. He "collects" (aka steals) scrap metal and other parts to sell to junkyard owners, and anything else valuable he comes across. One night, however, he drives by a fiery traffic accident, and sees freelance video people taking videos of it, which they later plan to sell to the news networks. Louis starts doing this as well, and eventually hires an assistant, Rick (Riz Ahmed), originally as an "intern" - Rick gets paid $30 per night to help navigate for Louis. As time goes on, Louis gets better and better at being a "nightcrawler" - and also …

Fundraiser and GIVEAWAY {ends 11/8}: Outback + Detroit Zoo "Give Back Night" on 11/6

Hey, movie fans!

Outback is hosting the Detroit Zoological Society's Give Back Night Fundraiser this Thursday, November 6th, 2014. If you dine at Outback that night, and say "Zoo Night" to your server, 15% of your total check will be donated to the Detroit Zoo - definitely a great organization.

Click here to find the closest Outback location to you.

Some movie + Outback pairings that I suggest (Outback is great either before or after a movie!): -AMC John R + Madison Heights Outback -Emagine Novi and Novi Outback -Emagine Rochester Hills and Rochester Outback

I also have a giveaway - one of my lucky readers will win a $20 gift certificate to Outback!

GIVEAWAY: 5 pairs of tickets for Elsa & Fred, 11/4 at the Maple Theater {Detroit area}, ends 11/2

The Maple Theater will be screening Elsa and Fred on November 4th at 7:30pm, before it premieres in theaters, as part of its New York Film Critics Series (NYFCS), and five of my lucky readers can win a pair of tickets to see it for free.

The cast in this film looks great, with Shirley MacLaine and Christopher Plummer as the leads, and Marcia Gay Harden in a supporting role.

{to purchase tickets ahead of time for the movie, click here}

Official synopsis:
ELSA AND FRED is the story of two people who, at the end of the road, discover that it's never too late to love. After losing his wife, Fred (Christopher Plummer) feels disturbed, confused and alone, so his daughter (Marcia Gay Harden) helps move him into a small apartment where he meets Elsa (Shirley MacLaine). From that moment on, everything changes. Elsa bursts into Fred’s life like a whirlwind, determined to teach him that the time he has left to live—be it more or less—is precious and that he should enjoy it as he pleases. - Mill…

Event Review: Walker Stalker Con, Atlanta #WSCAtlanta #TheWalkingDead

*Disclosure: I attended this event as a member of the media. The opinions expressed here, however, are my own.

I started watching The Walking Dead in May 2013, because one of the executive producers, Gale Ann Hurd, was speaking at BlogHer. I expected to watch a few episodes of it and then be done, because I dislike gore and horror.


The pilot itself (which I rewatched in Atlanta this year, actually) was so good, especially for a pilot, and I was hooked immediately. Flash-forward to this month, when I'm now completely caught up on the show, and I was able to attend Walker Stalker Con in Atlanta, where my friend who hooked me onto the show lives.

The convention was definitely an interesting experience. I have been to three different BlogHer's (a blogging convention) and other types of cons, but never a fan convention. I expected a ton of people dressed up as zombies, but did not expect to see people dressed like the show's characters:

CD Review and $10 Family Christian Appreciation Certificate GIVEAWAY: Polka Christmas Party, ends 11/2

*Disclosure: I received the Polka Christmas Party CD for reviewing purposes. The opinions expressed here, however, are my own.

I'll admit it: I'm a bit of a grinch not that enthusiastic about Christmas music most of the time. I have a good reason for it, though: radio stations seem to start playing Christmas music earlier and earlier every year, and I actually heard some playing at my local Walmart a MONTH ago, back in September. Way too early!

However, I otherwise enjoy Christmas music, and the Polka Christmas Party CD puts a new twist on it by adding a Polka spin to it.

A bit about the musician:

Craig Duncan is no stranger to the Nashville music community. His talents on violin, fiddle, hammered dulcimer, mandolin, guitar, bass, and viola can be heard on numerous Nashville recordings. A graduate of Appalachian State University and Tennessee State University, Craig is a member of the North American Fiddler's Hall of Fame and Who's Who in Music and Musicians. In addition…

Movie Review: John Wick

At age 50, Keanu Reeves proves he's still "got it" in John Wick, a film that's low on plot but keeps the action moving consistently throughout. There seem to be an influx of "retirement movies" recently, where a retired agent or bad guy will come out of retirement to fulfill a certain goal, and John Wick in the genre; in this case, however, it's a certain string of events that provoke John into returning to his hitman days.

John Wick's (Reeves') wife has just passed away, and one day he receives a special delivery: a puppy, sent from her when she knew she was getting sick. John treasures this puppy, since it's one last connection to his wife. While at a gas station one day, John runs in to some thugs, who are coveting his vintage automobile; one of the thugs asks "How much?" and John says it's not for sale. The thugs don't like that, and later break into his house and steal the car, among other things. However, they had n…

GIVEAWAY: Joy (Iesodo) on DVD, ends 10/30

I gave away Faith in the Iesodo series back in March, and now Joy has just been released and one of my lucky readers will win a copy.


(Yay-Sa-Doe) is a wise white dove whose name means “The Way of Jesus.” He and his feathered friends bring your favorite New Testament stories to life in a whole new way including this special re-imagining of the Nativity story. Let your heart take flight and tweet along to holiday carols and all-new songs!

Festivities are in full swing as the flock prepares to celebrate Iesodo's birthday! The Cypress Tree is decked out with holly berries and excitement is in the air. Everyone gathers as Rocky shares the incredible story of Iesodo's birth.

Iesodo and his feathered friends bring your favorite New Testament stories to life in a whole new way. Iesodo (pronounced Yay-Sa-Doe) and his friends live in the Holy Land, in a beautiful Cypress Tree on the shores of a vast Lake (or as we know it, the Sea of Galilee). These birds…

GIVEAWAY: Beethoven's Treasure Tail Blu-ray combo pack, ends 11/3

Beethoven's Treasure Trail is currently out on Digital HD, and will be released on Blu-ray combo pack on October 28th. However, you can win your copy from me today!

I used to love the Beethoven movies as a kid, and so I was excited to see that they have another one coming to Blu-ray/DVD.

The Blu-ray™ Combo Pack includes a Blu-ray™, DVD and DIGITAL HD with Ultraviolet™.

· Blu-ray™ unleashes the power of your HDTV and is the best way to watch movies at home, featuring 6X the picture resolution of DVD and theater-quality surround sound.
· DVD offers the flexibility and convenience of playing movies in more places, both at home and away.
· DIGITAL HD with Ultraviolet™ lets fans watch movies anywhere on their favorite devices. Users can instantly stream or download.

Click hereand herefor some activity sheets based on the movie, as well.
{Click here to purchase the Blu-ray combo pack}

Official synopsis:
Get ready to howl with laughter in this all-new family comed…

GIVEAWAY: Ringling Bros. and Barnum and Bailey Presents Built to Amaze! (Detroit area, ends 10/31)

*Disclosure: I received something of value from Feld Entertainment as part of their Insider Program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

The circus is coming (back) to town! I had a great time last November when I attended Ringling Bros. and the Barnum & Bailey circus at the Palace, and I definitely plan on attending this year, as well.

The Built to Amaze! tour will be at the Palace of Auburn Hillsfrom Wednesday, November 12 through Sunday, November 16th this year, and you can purchase tickets by clicking here. Prices start at $14, and you won't want to miss the All-Access Preshow - if you arrive 60 minutes before the show begins, you can experience it.

New this year: Andre McClain, Ringmaster and America’s favorite cowboy takes the Ringling Bros. reins and accompanied by his horse Comanche, leads his Built To Amaze! funny and mischievous super circus supervisors, to construct The Greatest Show On Earth. Also new to Ringling …

INTERVIEW: Michael Rooker (Merle, The Walking Dead) at Walker Stalker Con, Atlanta

*Disclosure: I attended Walker Stalker Con with media credentials. Any opinions expressed here, however, are my own.

I had the pleasure of attending a short press roundtable with Michael Rooker this past weekend at Walker Stalker Con, in Atlanta. Rooker played Merle on The Walking Dead, a character that definitely had an impact on the show; he was a villain, but had some good qualities to him as well.

{check back soon for a full Walker Stalker Con recap, too}

Here's the full interview:
(apologies for sound quality)

Some interesting questions + answers:

Q: What is your biggest childhood fear? What motivates you, what scares you, and motivates you in roles?

A: Violence - very scary to me, and so, I got very good at it.

You've been doing a lot of conventions this year. A lot of people experience fanboy moments when they first meet you. What's a fanboy moment you've had?

I don't have many of those, but Stan Lee would probably be my top. You know who he is, right?

Event Review: Disney On Ice Presents Princesses & Heroes, at the Palace of Auburn Hills {Detroit area}

*Disclosure: I received something of value from Feld Entertainment as part of their Insider Program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

I was unable to attend Disney On Ice this time because I was out of town attending Walker Stalker Con (look for a recap post soon). Review and pictures in this post are by my mom, who is an avid Disney fan and loves attending Disney On Ice.

I must tell you that I love Mickey Mouse and everything Disney. When Liz surprised me with tickets for Disney On Ice for October 16th, I was thrilled. It was Opening Night!

The theme was Princesses and Heroes, and all of my favorite Disney characters came to life while skating to their movie music soundtracks. There were many stories which included Cinderella, Ariel, Belle, Jasmine, Aladdin, Anna, Elsa and more. These characters seemed to glide across the ice with style and ease, and their skating was absolutely beautiful.

Before each story began, Mickey and …

Movie Review: Fury

Fury is one of the more intense and realistic war movies that I've seen in quite some time, and the cast is fantastic as well. It focuses on a tank crew stationed in Germany, near the end of World War II (spring 1945), and is definitely not for the faint of heart.

Don "Wardaddy" Collier (Brad Pitt) is in charge of a Sherman tank and its crew of five, including "Bible" (Shia LaBeouf), "Gordo" (Michael Peña), "Coon-Ass" (Jon Bernthal), and rookie Norman (Logan Lerman), who is scared to do his job. They're part of a battalion that soon dwindles down to include only them, and they must kill Germans, do their jobs, and - above all - stay alive.

Movie Review: The Best of Me

I read The Best of Me back in December 2011 and I reviewed it on my book blog, and now it's a feature film starring Michelle Monaghan, James Marsden, Luke Bracey, and Liana Liberato. I remembered the gist of the plot, although not the specifics, and from reading the book's Wikipedia page, it looks like only a few details were changed.

Dawson Cole (Marsden) has just survived a boating accident on the boat where he works. He gets a call from a small-town lawyer, saying that his mentor, Tuck (Gerald McRaney) has passed away, and has left some belongings to Dawson. Amanda (Monaghan) gets the same call, and returns to her Louisiana hometown, where she runs in to Dawson - a man she hasn't seen for more than twenty years, but with whom she used to be deeply in love. Amanda is now married, with a teenaged son, but it's hard to keep from stirring up old feelings; meanwhile, Dawson has never stopped loving Amanda. Dawson and Amanda must work together to settle Tuck's estate,…

GIVEAWAY: The Devil's Hand - Prophecy Party & $15 iTunes Gift Card, ends 10/24

The Devil's Hand is now out on VOD (Video on Demand), and I have the opportunity for you to win a $15 iTunes gift card.

I'm definitely not a horror movie fan, but I'll admit that the synopsis sounds interesting on this one.

Official synopsis:
When six girls are born on the sixth day of the sixth month to different mothers in the small, devout village of New Bethlehem an ancient prophecy is set in motion - on their 18th birthday one of the girls will become the Devil's Hand. As the day approaches and one by one the young women begin to disappear, terror overtakes the quiet community and those remaining girls band together to uncover who or what is behind these treacherous acts.

GIVEAWAY: 5 pairs of tickets for A Thousand Times Good Night, 10/21 at the Maple Theater {Detroit area}, ends 10/20

The Maple Theater will be screening A Thousand Times Good Night on October 21st at 7:30pm, before it premieres in theaters, as part of its New York Film Critics Series (NYFCS), and five of my lucky readers can win a pair of tickets to see it for free.

I liked Juliette Binoche a lot in Words and Pictures this year, too, so I'm excited to see her in this movie.

{to purchase tickets ahead of time for the movie, click here}

Official synopsis:
Rebecca (Juliette Binoche) is one of the world's top war photojournalists, capturing dangerous and chilling images in the most dire landscapes, all in an effort to shed light on the real cost of modern war. But she's also a wife and mother, leaving behind a husband and two young daughters every time she travels to a new combat zone. After a near-death experience chronicling the ritual of a female suicide bomber, husband Marcus (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) levels an ultimatum: give up the dangerous profession or lose the family she counts on being…

DVD Review and GIVEAWAY: Ava and Lala, ends 10/22

*Disclosure: I received a copy of Ava and Lala for reviewing purposes. The opinions expressed here, however, are my own.

I don't watch many childrens movies, but I was surprised (in a good way) by Ava and Lala.

This film seems to have slipped under the radar a bit, because the voice cast is full of A-listers: JK Simmons, George Takei, Mira Sorvino, and Tom Arnold. If you Google the movie, it comes up on a few websites, but its IMDb listing is sparse, too.

Official synopsis:Ava is a mischievous young girl and martial arts student who really knows how to pack a punch! One day she meets Lala, a cuddly and kind creature, a cross between a tiger cub and a Teddy bear, and they discover they can talk to each other. She runs away from her village, and her home, to join Lala in a mystical kingdom of wonderful animals, all specially chosen to live there, safe from humans. They befriend a huge bear who has a heart of gold, Uncle Bear, who tells them that Lala must leave the kingdom in three d…

FLASH GIVEAWAY: Family 4-pack of tickets to HalloWeekends at Cedar Point {Sandusky, OH}, ends 10/15

As you may have read, I attended Cedar Point's HalloWeekends a few weeks ago with friends, and had a fantastic time. Cedar Point is known as having the most (and the best, IMO) rollercoasters in the country, and it's also a great place for a family vacation day or weekend.

Thanks to the generous folks at Cedar Point, I have a family four-pack of tickets to giveaway.

Please do keep in mind that there's only three HalloWeekends left: October 17-19, October 24-26, and October 31-November 2. Therefore, do not enter the giveaway if you cannot make it to the park on one of these weekends.

Winner will be notified via email on Thursday, October 16th, and have 24 hours to respond, or an alternate winner will be chosen. Prize will be mailed or emailed by Cedar Point.

Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Review and COUPON: Bloggers Do BBQ: Dickey's Barbecue Pit, Ferndale, MI

*Disclosure: I received a complimentary meal from Dickey's in exchange for this post. The opinions expressed here, however, are my own.

I had the pleasure of dining with a few other blogger friends at Dickey's Barbecue Pit in Ferndale this past week. This was my first time eating at Dickey's, and I was excited to try it out. Dickey's has a number of locations, and we dined at the downtown Ferndale, MI locale (on Woodward near 9 Mile).

The first thing you might notice as you walk in is the HUGE pile of chopped firewood near the door - these are used for the smokers, to make sure your BBQ is delicious. We could choose either a sandwich or a meat plate, so I chose the two-meat plate, with chicken and pulled pork. The pulled pork was a little "fattier" than I normally would like, but the chicken was delicious. For my sides, I chose the Fried Onion Tanglers, as well as the Waffle Iron Fries - both were great (I'm a sucker for waffle fries, usually) but if I co…

Movie Review: Men, Women, and Children

Men, Women & Children is based on the book of the same name, which I now want to read. It has a fantastic ensemble cast, and focuses mainly on three or four stories or so; it reminded me of 2013's Disconnect(another good film) in that it focuses on how teens use the internet. I almost missed the screening of this movie, but I'm very glad I decided to attend at the last minute.

The official synopsis of this movie from IMDb is: "A group of high school teenagers and their parents attempt to navigate the many ways the Internet has changed their relationships, their communication, their self-image, and their love lives." That very basic summary makes a good start at explaining the gist of the movie. High school football player Tim Mooney (Ansel Elgort, The Fault in Our Stars) has decided to quit the team this year, after his mother abandoned him and his father (Dean Norris) and moved to California with her boyfriend. He befriends fellow student Brandy (Kaitlyn Dever),…

Movie Review: The Judge

I had a feeling The Judge was going to be good, just based on its cast: RDJ and Robert Duvall as the main characters, with Vincent D'Onofrio, Vera Farmiga, Dax Shepard, and Billy Bob Thornton in supporting cast roles. It did end up being good, though not in the way I thought it would be; it's a slow-moving film, but I still enjoyed it.

Hank Palmer (Robert Downey Jr.) left the small town in Indiana in which he grew up in a long time ago, and he now practices law in Chicago. His marriage is falling apart, but he still has his daughter, with whom he's very close; he's in the midst of a case when his brother (D'Onofrio) calls and tells him his mom has passed away. Hank makes the flight back to his hometown, to find that his dad (Duvall) is still a jerk, though he's fine with seeing his brothers (D'Onofrio and Jeremy Strong). The brothers notice that their dad's precious vintage car has some scratches on it, with one of the headlights knocked out, but don&#…

Movie Review: Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day

I read the Alexander book, by Judith Viorst, back when I was a kid, so I was looking forward to seeing Alexander in the theater. Unfortunately, aside from a few funny lines here and there, it's definitely geared more towards younger children, and I didn't end up enjoying it very much.

Alexander Cooper (Ed Oxenbould) is having an awful day. Another boy scheduled his birthday party the same day as Alexander's, so the girl he has a crush on isn't going to his party anymore; he accidentally lights some things on fire in the science lab; and he gets gum stuck in his hair. His parents and older brother and sister never have such days. At midnight the next day, on his birthday, he wishes that they too would experience a day like he has all the time - and the next day, when he wakes up, chaos has arrived, and his wish actually came true.

Family Movie Night - Star Wars Rebels: Spark of Rebellion on DVD #SparkRebellion

*Disclosure: This shop has been compensated by #CollectiveBias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone.

I'm a big Star Wars fan, but this actually didn't start until college, when I binge-watched the entire series (in chronological order, of course: IV, V, VI, I, II, III) during spring break of my freshman year. As a movie buff, not having seen any of the Star Wars series was a serious offense in my book, and I felt that I owed it to myself to watch them.

When the new Star Wars Rebels: Spark of Rebellion DVD was released, I was curious to see how closely it would relate to the movies. It takes place 14 years after Episode III and 5 years before Episode 4, and features a band of rebels who find themselves on board a starship called Ghost. Star Wars Rebels is also going to be a Disney Channel TV series, starting October 13th, and the movie is the "prequel" of sorts to the series.

Celebrate Rum and Fun at Bahama Breeze's Late-night Rumtoberfest!

*Disclosure: I received a meal at Bahama Breeze in exchange for this post. The opinions expressed here, however, are my own.

I am definitely no stranger to Bahama Breeze - I used to frequent the Livonia, MI location, and when I moved to Troy two years ago, I was thrilled to see that there's another location right down the street from me.

I was invited to its Rumtoberfest last year, which was a great time, and this year they've outdone themselves with even more great rum-inspired dishes and drinks.

GIVEAWAY: Disney On Ice Presents Princesses & Heroes at the Palace of Auburn Hills {Detroit area}, ends 10/8

*Disclosure: I received something of value from Feld Entertainment as part of their Insider Program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

Disney On Ice Presents Princesses & Heroes is coming to the Palace of Auburn Hills this month, and I have a family four-pack of tickets for one of my lucky readers to win!

First, a bit about the show:
Enter a world of wonder where heroes and hearts prevail. Join Ariel as she yearns to explore the world above the waves and Prince Eric breaks Ursula’s slithering spell to reclaim his one true love. See Prince Philip defeat the evil Maleficent as she transforms herself into a fire-breathing dragon in a race against time to rescue Sleeping Beauty’sAurora. Be there to discover a whole new world with Jasmine and Aladdin. And, watch in awe as the dreams of Cinderella, Belle, Snow White, Rapunzel and Tiana all come true. High flying jumps, daring acrobatics, breathtaking skating and lovable Disney fri…

GIVEAWAY: Crossroads Village and Huckleberry Railroad (Flint, MI), ends 10/12

I'm helping my blogger friend Tiffany over at Daily Leisure promote this giveaway, and it's a fun one.

Crossroads Village & Huckleberry Railroad is located in Flint, Michigan, near Genesee Township, and is a replica of a Great Lakes town. It's kind of like a small Greenfield Village, if you've been, and it's a fun place to take kids or the family. I was able to go there over the summer, and it was an interesting day excursion.

Crossroads Village Hours and Rates:

Weeknights Oct. 10, 17, 24, 29-31: 5:00 pm-9:00 pm
Weekends Oct. 4, 5, 11, 12, 18, 19, 25, 26: 12:00 noon-9:00 pm

Village Only Ticket (Any day) $10.00

Combination Ticket: Village/Train (Any day) -OR- Village/Belle (Saturday and Sunday) $13.00

Ghost Train Departures:
Weeknights Oct. 10, 17, 24, 29-31: 5:50 pm, 6:40 pm, and 7:30 pm.

Weekends Oct. 4, 5, 11, 12, 18, 19, 25, 26 : 12:50 pm, 1:40 pm, 2:30 pm, 3:20 pm,
4:10 pm, 5:00 pm, 5:50 pm, 6:40 pm, and 7:30 pm.