Friday, April 17, 2015

Movie Review: Monkey Kingdom (Disneynature)

I've actually only seen a few Disneynature films, but I enjoyed Monkey Kingdom much more than last year's Bears. The monkeys were adorable, but the movie made it into more of a story than Bears did, and there are even some humans in this film too, although only as background players, as the monkeys are the star of the show.

The film focuses on Maya, who is a "lowborn" monkey, meaning that her life is hard. She must forage for food and isn't allowed to climb the huge fig tree in her community - that privilege is reserved for the "highborn" monkeys, including The Sisters, a group of three red-faced monkeys who rule the community, and their Alpha male, Raja. Maya meets a mate, Kumar, and later gives birth to a baby boy, Kip, which means she must work even harder to make a life for the two of them; it doesn't help that Kip gets into a fight with Raja and is thrown out before the baby is born. This is the story of a lowborn monkey "making a life" for herself and her newborn, and doing so in smart and ingenious ways.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Who are you when you're hungry? {My inner Cruella de Vil} #WhenImHungry

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

I lead a fairly busy life. I work full-time, and in my spare time, I run two blogs - this one and my book blog. My typical day looks something like this ...

8am: Wake up
8:15am to 9:15am: Check email, promote and/or write blog posts, get ready for work
9:30am - 4:30pm: Work
5pm: either dinner, the gym, or getting ready for a movie screening
5:45pm - 6:45pm: Zumba at the gym 
7pm - 8pm: TV time ... maybe. 
10pm: (on movie screening nights) Arrive home.
10pm - 11pm: Catch up on emails, social media, etc.
11pm: Read for a bit, if I have time.
12-12:30am: Sleep. 
(and ... repeat.)

I'm usually pretty good about packing and prepping lunches for work ahead of time. Tonight I made myself some chicken stir-fry, and I had enough left over for three separate portions, which I froze and will eat at a later date. I don't always have time to stop by the supermarket, though, and that's when things start to get dicey:

Sunday, April 12, 2015

gMovies Review and 6-month GIVEAWAY {ends 4/22}

I recently was introduced to gMovies, which is sort of the Netflix of the Christian/family-friendly world. I hadn't previously heard of it, so I was curious to try it out. It has both an iOS and Google Play apps, so I downloaded it on my iPad Mini and started exploring.

The first movie I stumbled upon was one with Candace Cameron Bure in it! I will be watching that (Finding Normal) at some point because I loved her in Full House.

Friday, April 10, 2015

Movie Review: The Longest Ride

I try not to compare books to movies, but I just reviewed The Longest Ride over on my book blog last month, so it was hard not to compare the two this time. It's a Nicholas Sparks book, so you know the movie is going to have a couple with major differences that could possibly tear them apart (check), a few love scenes (check), and two leads that fall deeply in love (check). The movie changed much from the book, including putting things out of sequence, but it still was cute and worth seeing.

Sophia Danko (Britt Robertson) is a senior at Wake Forest University who has an art internship lined up in NYC after she graduates. She meets bullrider Luke Collins (Scott Eastwood) when her sorority sisters drag her to a bullriding event, and they hit it off. She tells him that she's moving to NYC at the end of the next month, so he stays away even though he really likes her; eventually, though, they are drawn back to each other. At the end of their first date, when he's driving Sophia home, they see that the highway guardrail has been damaged, and they find an old man, Ira (Alan Arkin), who has been in a car accident. They bring him to the hospital, and Sophia ends up visiting him frequently, where she finds out his love story: he and his wife Ruth (Oona Chaplin), who met when they were young. There are many parallels between Ira and Ruth's story to Sophia and Luke's, and Ira's story helps Sophia decide what she should do in her own love story.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Upcoming: The Illusionists at Fisher Theatre {Detroit}, April 28 - May 10, 2015

*Disclosure: I will be receiving tickets to this show in exchange for blogging about it. The opinions listed here, however, are my own.

The Illusionists will be performing at the Fisher Theatre in Detroit this April and May, and I'm excited to see them. I've never been to one of their shows, but I love magic shows - I've seen David Copperfield and Penn & Teller before, both in Vegas.

More info:
THE ILLUSIONISTS - WITNESS THE IMPOSSIBLE™, the world’s best-selling touring magic show, will play Detroit’s Fisher Theatre, April 28 – May 10 as part of a 20 city U.S. tour. The show had a highly successful holiday run on Broadway this past year. Tickets for THE ILLUSIONISTS are on sale at all Ticketmaster locations, by phone at 1-800-982-2787, and online at or Tickets will also be available for purchase on Monday, February 2 at the Fisher Theatre box office.

Having shattered box office records around the world, THE ILLUSIONISTS - WITNESS THE IMPOSSIBLE™ is now coming to captivate Detroit. This mind-blowing spectacular showcases the jaw-dropping talents of seven of the most incredible illusionists on earth. Full of hilarious magic tricks, death-defying stunts and acts of breathtaking wonder, THE ILLUSIONISTS has dazzled audiences of all ages. Creative Producer Simon Painter said, "We can’t wait to bring this electrifying show to Detroit for a truly entertaining experience for the whole family. THE ILLUSIONISTS is the most non-stop and powerful mix of outrageous and astonishing acts ever to be seen on the live stage."

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Review and $25 GIVEAWAY: Grand Opening - Granite City Food and Brewery, Northville, MI {ends 4/21}

*Disclosure: My family and I attended Granite City Northville's "mock service" and were treated to a complimentary meal. The opinions listed here, however, are my own.

I am no stranger to Granite City - although previously Troy was the only GC location in Michigan, I live within walking distance from that location, and my friends and I like to go to their happy hour. I had not been in a while, however, so I was glad that my family and I got the opportunity this past Saturday night to try out its new location in Northville.

Because this was a "mock service," there were a few rules we had to follow - we were allowed one appetizer for the table, and were able to choose from about five different apps and also entrees. No entree could be doubled (ie, each person had to choose a different entree from the other), too. My mom and I don't eat fish and my dad is a big fan of burgers, so we eventually settled on the Bruschetta Salad (Mom), Big Show Burger (Dad), and Chicken Limone (me).

For our appetizer, we got the spinach artichoke dip. I'm not a huge fan of spinach OR artichokes, but it actually ended up being really delicious. Like, so delicious that I want to order it next time I go back.

My Chicken Limone reminded me of chicken piccata but minus the capers, and was also very good. I tried my mom's bruschetta salad too, although I believe I've had that at the Troy location once, and liked it. The standout from the entrees was actually the sweet potato tots that came with my dad's burger ... my mom and I pretty much gobbled them up as we are both huge sweet potato fans.

J.K. Simmons talks Whiplash, filming in Detroit this summer, at benefit breakfast

Rhonda Walker (WDIV) interviews J.K. Simmons
I was very fortunate to attend a Q&A and "meet and greet" event with J.K. Simmons yesterday at the MotorCity Casino. He was scheduled to throw out the first pitch at the Tigers game later that day, but took some time out for charity - the Neighborhood Service Organization - and to do a sit-down with WDIV's Rhonda Walker.

Ironically, J.K. was in a movie ABOUT the Tigers, called For the Love of the Game, also starring Kevin Costner. I've added that and also HBO's TV show Oz, in which he also starred, to my viewing list now after hearing him talk about both of them.

Some quotes that I found interesting:

Rhonda Walker: "It's been kind of a whirlwind for you, I'd imagine, once you played that pivotal role in Whiplash. It's probably felt a little like whiplash - going through the awards season, going on that stage time after time.

J.K. Simmons: "It's definitely been a heightened level of attention and awareness and opportunities that it brings professionally, and personally as well - the chance to be a guy to bring attention to things like the NSO. [More] work opportunities - one of the things that you mentioned that's coming up with me is working with Jordan Vogt-Roberts, who's a young guy from the Detroit area and we hope to be shooting for a few weeks this summer on that movie [Kong]. That was part of his pitch to me when we met for the first time, the beginning of the movie before we go to the mysterious island will be set in Detroit and we will shoot in Detroit for Detroit."

RW: You have been acting for a long time, between working on Broadway and starting your career in film and TV. Has there been any role that was one of your favorites to play; and/or, how does your intense character in Whiplash compare?

JKS: There's a lot of highlights, in terms of enjoying the work. Certainly Whiplash was one of them, although maybe not the nicest role I've ever played. [laughter]