Friday, December 26, 2014

Movie Review: The Imitation Game

The Imitation Game is based on a true story with which most audiences probably aren't familiar; I was not, and now am curious enough to try and look up more of the story. The film takes place during World War I, and has an all-star cast - Benedict Cumberbatch and Keira Knightley have both scored SAG and Golden Globe nominations for their acting, and the movie itself is up for Best Picture - Drama for both awards as well.

Alan Turing (Cumberbatch) is a geek and a loner, but also very intelligent. He is one of a select few chosen to help England try to break Germany's codes during World War I - breaking the codes would mean being able to decipher all of Germany's messages, giving England a distinct advantage in the war. He eventually is made head of the team and must recruit a few other members, including the team's first woman, Joan (Knightley), with whom he works very well. The rest of the team finds his seriousness and focus a bit off-putting, although they will admit that his methods look like they will be producing results.

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Movie Review: Into the Woods

Before I saw Into the Woods, I knew that it was based on the Broadway musical of the same name, and has a fantastic cast of A-listers. I didn't know that it was going to be so whimsical and funny, though, at least for its first half, and I ended up enjoying it a lot.

There are four or five fairy tales that converge in this film. Cinderella (Anna Kendrick) wishes to go to the festival with her stepmother (Christine Baranski) and two evil stepsisters (Lucy Punch and Tammy Blanchard). Red Riding Hood (Lilla Crawford) is trying to make it safely to her grandmother's house, but Mr. Wolf (Johnny Depp, in a fantastically creepy role) tries to detain her. Jack (Daniel Huttlestone) lives with his mother, who is trying to make ends meet, and she makes him sell the family cow, Milky White, because it has stopped producing milk, even though it's his best friend. Finally, the Baker (James Corden) and his wife (Emily Blunt) wish to have a child, only to find out that The Witch (Meryl Streep) cursed The Baker's family with barrenness a while back; the witch, however, offers to break the curse for him, as long as he can get her a few items she needs.

Friday, December 19, 2014

Last-minute holiday gift idea: Disney Planes toys #PlanesToTheRescue

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

Looking for last minute holiday gift ideas? Delight the little ones in your life with Disney Planes items now on Rollback at Walmart! All items listed below are on rollback through the holiday season! #PlanesToTheRescue #ad

Disney Planes Flight to the Finish Speedway ($24.97)
Disney Planes: Fire & Rescue Die-Cast Vehicles, 3-Pack ($14.97)
Disney Planes: Fire & Rescue Deluxe Talking Vehicle Assortment ($19.97)

I saw Planes: Fire & Rescue in the theater back in July, and it was a cute movie! The 3D was fantastic, as well.

Have you seen Planes: Fire & Rescue, and if not, do you plan on it? Which of the toys above would you give as a gift?

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Review: The Great Escape Room is a real-life Sherlock Holmes adventure

L to R: Alysia (Michigal), Anna Mae (Ann Arbor with Kids), Amber's husband, Amber (Metro Detroit Mommy),
me, Julie, and Crystal (Mom Among Chaos)

Last night, a group of bloggers and I had the pleasure of trying out The Great Escape Room, which is in the midst of its soft opening this week in Royal Oak. Prices normally range from $23 to $28, but if you try it out this week (12/19-12/21), you can experience it for $18.

Here's how the room works:
  • After entering a room with your team (up to 12 people), the door is locked behind you. You have 60 minutes to solve the puzzles and escape from the room!
  • You must work together to find clues and solve puzzles that will lead you to your escape
  • The room is part scavenger hunt and part puzzle game
  • Only about 20% of groups are able to meet the challenge and escape in time!

I thought it would be more of a real-life Clue game, but it ended up being more like Sherlock Holmes, complete with a Holmes-esque soundtrack (and some of the music I recognized from the soundtrack of the latest movie, too).

The room started out pretty neat and tidy ...

.... until we ransacked it looking for clues!

We were told to leave nothing untouched or unturned, and we definitely took that literally. Some of the clues were found easily, and some were found at the last minute. We then decided to "divide and conquer," as there were four color-themed puzzles to solve in order to escape from the room.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Yes/No Foods: Sartori cheese for the holidays

A photo posted by Liz Parker (@yesnofilms) on
*Disclosure: I received Sartori products to facilitate this blog post. The opinions expressed here, however, are my own.

When I was attending the #EcoTravelwithadoba event in Dearborn last week, our hostess, Gwen, had some delicious treats for us in her hotel suite the first night we were there. We feasted on chips, pretzels, cookies, and more, and one of the foods I liked very much was Rosemary & Olive Oil Asiago cheese on a cracker, which I later found out was Sartori brand.

The nice people over at Sartori were kind enough to send me a few cheeses to try! I love cheese, although sometimes have issues with dairy, so a little bit of cheese with crackers is a good portion size for me.

I received five different cheeses to try:
  1. Rosemary & Olive Oil Asiago: This one continues to be my favorite. It goes well with just about anything, and it was the one I definitely dug into first when I received my package from Sartori.
  2. Espresso Bellavitano: I very much dislike coffee, so I had a feeling I would not like this one, and I did not - however, I was able to eat most of it, avoiding the rind, which has a strong coffee taste.
  3. Merlot Bellavitano: I brought this to a small party last weekend and it was a big hit among kids and adults alike. It has the bellavitano taste that I did like from the espresso bellavitano, but the rind (merlot) is much tastier, in my opinion.
  4. MontAmore: Noodles & Co. has a dish topped with montamore cheese, which I like, so I figured I would like the MontAmore and I definitely did. It actually went very well on a flatbread pizza with pesto sauce rather than tomato.
  5. Sarvecchio Parmesan: I only recently opened this one, and two of us had it over pasta this week, which was good. I also had it tonight in a ham panini with pesto and the shaved Sarvecchio on top, and it was again very good.
If I could only choose one to recommend, I'd choose the Rosemary & Olive Oil Asiago, but it's a hard choice - the Merlot Bellavitano went very well with crackers, and I like the MontAmore and the Parmesan for pastas or sandwiches. So I suppose it depends on what you are looking to pair the cheese with.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Family Movie Night with Guardians of the Galaxy #OwnTheGalaxy

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

I reviewed Guardians of the Galaxy back in August 2014, and I attended the screening of the movie with my dad; however, my mom was unable to go. So when the movie came out on Blu-ray/DVD, I knew I wanted her to finally see it.

She's a huge fan of '70s and '80s music, which Chris Pratt's character loves in Guardians, so we headed to Walmart to pick up the DVD and also the soundtrack as an early holiday present for her.

The DVD was easy to find on the shelf, on an end display. It's offered in DVD, Blu-ray 3D/Bluray format, or just Bluray, and I selected the DVD, as my parents have a DVD player but not Blu-ray.

Walmart also offers exclusive character "O-sleeves" for its Blu-ray copies, as you can see in the top two rows of movies here; the DVD also has a music zinepack and a 64-page magazine with cast and crew interviews, behind-the-scene photos, and trivia, as well as a custom "cassette" laptop decal (sticker).

The DVD was also a great price, on rollback for $14.96.

It took some searching but we found our copy of the Guardians of the Galaxy soundtrack, too!

Movie Review: Wild

Though I unfortunately don't have a review of Wild up on my book blog, I read it in May 2013 as the first book chosen by my book club. I don't read much nonfiction, but I do sometimes like autobiographies, and Cheryl Strayed's story was an unusual one that stayed with me: she chooses to walk the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) to try and straighten up her life, and get rid of some of the demons plaguing her. I was excited, then, to hear that the book was being made into a movie, with Reese Witherspoon as Cheryl, and the film adaptation did not disappoint.

Cheryl (Witherspoon) has gone through a lot of hardship recently, so she decides to walk the 600-plus-mile PCT even though she doesn't have much hiking experience. Her childhood and early 20s is shown in flashbacks; she loved her mother, Bobbi (Laura Dern), who recently passed away from cancer, and she wasn't as close with her brother, Lief (Keene McRae) as she would have liked to have been. Cheryl meets a lot of interesting people on the trail, and although she at first struggles with the journey, both physically and mentally, she perseveres on, and aims to finish the trail within three months or so.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

GIVEAWAY: Wonder Forge Frozen 6-in-1 & Star Wars Rebel Missions Games, ends 12/17

Disclosure: Yes/No Films did not receive compensation for this post and is not responsible for prize fulfillment.

Wonder Forge Frozen 6-in-1 & Star Wars Rebel Missions Games Giveaway

Sponsor: Wonder Forge

I've partnered with a few other bloggers to bring you this giveaway - it would make a great holiday present for any children in your life! (or, keep them for yourself too if you like ...)

Frozen 6-in-1 Games - It's six classic games in one—Bingo, Go Fish, Crazy 8's, Four-in-a-Row, Dominoes and Matching—all featuring Anna, Elsa, Olaf and the rest of your favorite friends from Frozen!

Star Wars Rebel Missions - It's a dark time in the galaxy as the evil Galactic Empire tightens its grip of power. Work together as the ragtag crew of the Ghost starship and fight Imperial forces on the remote planet of Lothal! In this exciting team strategy game, race against the Imperial Timer to complete daring Rebel missions and find the four secret codes that will deal a blow to the Empire! Every game is a different edge-of-your-seat adventure!

Prize: Frozen 6-in-1 & Star Wars Rebel Missions Games
Dates: 12/10-12/17
Open to: US Residents 18+
Enter to win using the widget below. Good luck!

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

GIVEAWAY: Pumping Iron (HD copy) with Arnold Schwarzenegger, ends 12/17

So you think you know Arnold Schwarzenegger ... but do you know the whole story? I have a chance for one of my lucky readers to win an HD (digital) copy of the new movie about him, Pumping Iron.

About the film:
From Gold's Gym in Venice Beach California to the showdown in Pretoria, amateur and professional bodybuilders prepare for the 1975 Mr. Olympia and Mr. Universe contests in this part-scripted, part-documentary film.

Five-time champion Arnold Schwarzenegger defends his Mr. Olympia title against Serge Nubret and the shy, young, deaf Lou Ferrigno, whose father is his coach; the ruthless champ psyches out the young lion.

Sardinian Franco Columbu competes in the lightweight class; at home in Italy he solves a tight parking problem by lifting the car into place. Joe Weider is the marketer; Mike Katz and Ken Waller go for the title of Mr. Universe. Bodybuilding and a celebrity-to-be go mainstream.

Special Features:

Still Pumping: Success in bodybuilding is a mental challenge as well as physical. In these newly recorded interviews, Arnold Schwarzenegger talks about the will power and focus you need to become a champion, and the mental attitude that has shaped his career.

The Hard Science of Bodybuilding: Arnold Schwarzenegger and top bodybuilders give insights into the sport of bodybuilding and tips for building the body of your dreams.

Monday, December 8, 2014

December DVDs: When the Game Stands Tall

*Disclosure: I have been compensated for this post. The opinions expressed here, however, are my own.

I reviewed When the Game Stands Tall back in August of this year, and it was a great movie. I love films that are sports-related, and especially films that are based on a true story.

Here's the synopsis of the movie that I gave in my review:
Bob Ladouceur (Jim Caviezel) is in the midst of "The Streak" - 151 wins for De La Salle, over about a ten year period - until, at the start of the 2004 football season, he's suddenly not: the team loses their first game. The players and seniors, especially, are understandably upset, but Ladouceur is not: to him, it's more of making "a perfect effort" than winning every game. Two games later, the team starts winning again, and there's talk of another "streak" starting to take hold, which Ladouceur doesn't like; freshman and sophomores at the school are even starting to dream of the number the streak will be up to when they're juniors and seniors (33 games, at most). The coach must decide if he will stay at De La Salle - a job he's comfortable in and very good at - or take one of the many college football coaching positions that he has been offered.

Jim Caviezel plays Bob Ladouceur in the movie, and he's generally good in all his films - I especially liked him in Frequency, back in 2000, with Dennis Quaid. Laura Dern seems to be in EVERY movie this year - she was in The Fault in Our Stars, as Shailene Woodley's mother, and I just saw her in Wild as Reese Witherspoon's mother as well; she, too, does a great job in this movie. Alexander Ludwig (The Hunger Games) also has a small part in the movie, as one of the football players.

The DVD and Blu-ray of When the Game Stands Tall isn't out until December 31st, but you can pre-order it now at Family Christian:

  • Click here for the DVD ($19.99) 
  • Or here for the Blu-ray combo pack ($24.99, and includes a Blu-ray, DVD, and digital copy)

You also will receive a free $10 savings pass if you pre-order the movie!

What I like about Family Christian, too, is their commitment to helping others. They are a completely nonprofit business, and you can read more about their efforts here.

Have you seen When The Game Stands Tall, or would you like to see it? What are some of your favorite sports movies?

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Upcoming: Trans-Siberian Orchestra, December 27, Palace of Auburn Hills {Detroit area}

*Disclosure: I received TSO tickets in exchange for this post. The opinions expressed here, however, are my own.

The TSO (Trans-Siberian Orchestra) will be at the Palace of Auburn Hills this month, and I'm excited to finally attend one of its shows! I've heard a lot about the TSO, and I know it will be a great concert.

A little bit about the show:
Trans-Siberian Orchestra (TSO) will wrap up 2014 by performing their rock opera The Christmas Attic live for the first time in arenas across the nation on their Winter Tour 2014, including two shows at The Palace of Auburn Hills on Saturday, December 27 at 3 p.m. and 8 p.m.

Tickets are $74, $64, $54, $44 and $34 reserved, and can be bought here. A portion of the proceeds from every ticket sale benefits The Salvation Army and Gilda’s Club.

While 1998's The Christmas Attic features one of the band's most popular songs “Christmas Canon,” surprisingly, it is the only album of The Christmas Trilogy never to be performed live. The 2014 Winter Tour will find TSO playing more than 120 shows in 71 cities across North America and presented nationally by Hallmark Channel. (see for details).

As in all previous years, a portion of all ticket sales will go to benefit select local charities. The consistent growth of TSO's touring popularity has increased the group's contributions and, to date, TSO has donated more than $11 million to local charities.

This will be my first time seeing them in concert, but I've heard only good things about them. If you look them up on youtube, as well, you can hear a few of their songs, as well as see some live performances that have been uploaded.

I play violin, too (though I was more active in high school and college with it), and I'm curious to see how the TSO blends rock music with instrumental. TSO's website says:
When Paul O'Neill first conceived Trans-Siberian Orchestra, his goal was as straightforward as it was incredibly ambitious. "The whole idea," he explains, "was to create a progressive rock band that would push the boundaries (of the genre) further than any group before... Way, way further."
Have you seen the TSO in concert before, and if so, what are some of your favorite TSO songs?

Sunday, November 30, 2014

GIVEAWAY: 5 pairs of tickets to The Maple Theater's Secret Cinema [12/4], ends 12/3

Five of my lucky readers will get to see Secret Cinema at the Maple Theater this Thursday, December 4th - but you have to act fast.

So what's Secret Cinema, you may ask?

Secret Cinema is The Maple's classic film series with a twist - you won't know what you're watching until the lights go down! 
Join your fellow cinephiles every first and third Thursday of the month for another unnamed classic. We've split the series into two nights: Old Hollywood and New Hollywood, employing the pivotal year of 1967 as a historical and thematic dividing line. 
If you want to buy tickets ahead of time, they're only $5, and can be bought here.

This Thursday's showing is at 7:30pm and is "Old Hollywood," which means that we know it's a film from 1967 or earlier. December's Old Hollywood selection has been chosen by Courtney Brannon Donoghue, professor at Oakland University, and her selection is recommended for ages 10 and up.

Moviegoers also get free popcorn (yes, free!) with any other concessions purchase. If you are purchasing tickets, you're also able to select your seat on the Maple's website ahead of time.

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Movie Review: Whiplash

Have you ever wanted to be really, really good at something? Maybe you have a talent for music, or sports. You'll want to practice hard to hone that talent, right? Make yourself the best of the best?

Whiplash is what happens when obsessiveness kicks in, with both student and teacher, and it becomes unhealthy. Dangerous, even.

Miles Teller (Divergent, The Spectacular Now) is the best I've ever seen him here, as Andrew, a first-year music school student in NYC. He's a drummer, but is relegated to pageturner for the "core" drummer in the lower-qualified band - until the legendary Dr. Fletcher (J.K. Simmons) finds him practicing in a university room one day, and invites him to be the pageturner for the upper-level jazz band. Soon enough, Andrew has snatched the "core" chair for himself, and this is the beginning of a toxic student-teacher relationship that will push him to his breaking point - and beyond.

Teller and Simmons are fantastic in this movie. I saw the trailer at the Maple Theater a few months ago, and knew immediately that I wanted to see it - as a violinist, I love movies about music (and also about crazy people, ha) and I'm also a fan of Teller and Simmons. Austin Stowell (Dolphin Tale) has a small role as another freshman drummer, too, and Melissa Benoist (TV's Glee) as a girl that Teller briefly dates.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Movie Review: Penguins of Madagascar

If you've seen any of the Madagascar movies, you might remember that the penguins were always concocting plans and being crazy. The penguins now have their own spin-off film, Penguins of Madagascar, and the movie was basically like a James Bond movie, but with penguins - and a lot of fun and silliness thrown in.

Skipper (voiced by Tom McGrath), Kowalski (Chris Miller), and Rico (Conrad Vernon) start off as young penguins here, who see a penguin egg roll down the tundra and follow it. Soon, Private (Christopher Knights) is born, and they take him under their wings, so to speak. Years go by, but unfortunately, they're unaware that a villain, Dave (John Malkovich), an octopus, has harbored a plan for revenge against them; the reason for this is that every time the penguins got transferred to a zoo that Dave was living at, Dave was no longer the main attraction, as kids and adults flocked to see the penguins rather than them. Dave's plan is to use his evil potion machine to change all of the penguins in the world into ugly monsters, but the North Wind - Classified (Benedict Cumberbatch), Short Fuse (Ken Jeong), Eva (Annet Mahendru), and Corporal (Peter Stormare) - hears about the plan and decides to rescue the penguins. (Little do they know that Kowalski's bunch of penguins can do their own rescuing ...)

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Yes/No Foods: Giulio & Sons (adoba hotel), Dearborn, MI #EcoTravelwithadoba

*Disclosure: I received complimentary meals at Giulio & Sons to facilitate this post. The opinions expressed here, however, are my own.

Get ready to drool a bit more, my moviegoer friends. I recently talked about my experience at Buddy's Pizza in Dearborn, during the #EcoTravelwithadoba blogger event, and during the event, we dined at Giulio & Sons (in the adoba* hotel) three times - twice for breakfast, and once for dinner.

This post will focus on the dinner, but the breakfasts were delicious as well - the best deal is the breakfast buffet ($15) which has pretty much everything.

The first thing you'll notice when you arrive at Giulio & Sons for dinner is the dessert buffet, because most likely you will walk past it to your table. Definitely save room for dessert, as the buffet is delicious.

(there were almost TOO many to choose from - the restaurant's famous bread pudding, tiramisu, cannolis, cakes, and more)

We were "good" and started with salad, though, as well as some wine (Riesling, for me). I'm a little picky about salad dressings (I like sweet or savory dressings) and theirs was very good - some sort of vinaigrette.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Yes/No Foods: Buddy's Pizza, Dearborn, MI #EcoTravelwithadoba

*Disclosure: I received a complimentary meal at Buddy's to facilitate this post. The opinions expressed here, however, are my own.

I had the pleasure of dining at Buddy's Pizza in Dearborn, MI last week during my "staycation" at the adoba hotel (check next week for my hotel review). I had been to Buddy's Farmington Hills location before, and also its Royal Oak take-out location, but never to the Dearborn one.

This location is conveniently located on Michigan Ave., in what could be considered "downtown" Dearborn. We started the meal with a round of Buddy Bread, and then came the pizzas. Ohhhh, the pizzas.

For those who don't know, Buddy's is one of the restaurants in this area famous for its "Detroit-style" pizzas (sauce on the top). It's also famous for its deep-dish pizza, so of course I had to order a 4-piece.

I ordered the Lake Superior pizza, which includes pine nuts, pepperoni, a Motor City cheese blend, fresh basil, a tomato basil sauce, and Buddy's Sicilian spice blend. I also added mushrooms and roasted tomatoes to it. At first, however, I was served this pizza, which ended up being the Lake Huron pizza that fellow blogger Mary from Raising Dick and Jane had ordered:

A photo posted by Liz Parker (@yesnofilms) on

(in case you are wondering, the Lake Huron pizza has the same Motor City cheese blend, along with a spinach and artichoke blend, roasted tomatoes, and fresh spinach)

Movie Review - The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 1

Mockingjay - Part 1 is very different from the previous two Hunger Games movies, as avid readers will know, in that the Games are now over and revolution has taken its place. Peeta has been taken hostage by the Capitol, in a manner of speaking, and Katniss and her mother, sister, and Gale have taken refuge in district 13, which had once thought to be nonexistent. Because of this, I didn't enjoy Mockingjay as much as the last two films; however, it's definitely still worth seeing.

The President of District 13, President Coin (Julianne Moore) and Plutarch Heavensbee (Philip Seymour Hoffman, in one of his last remaining roles) want Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence) to be the face of the revolution. They hope to entice more people to fight, and to rebel against the Capitol. Katniss is unsure if Peeta (Josh Hutcherson) is still alive, until she sees a Capitol interview with him and Caesar Flickerman (Stanley Tucci), in which he appears robotic and changed. This is all due to President Snow (Donald Sutherland), of course, although Katniss and her team don't find out until later about the extent of his changes.

Beetee (Jeffrey Wright) has also been able to hack into the Capitol's broadcast system, and he is working on airing a series of events to the Capitol's citizens, so that they know the Capitol is evil. They try filming a staged promo with Katniss, who does not do well with that, so instead they send her and a team out to District 8 to help rally and motivate the people there; when the Capitol sees Katniss on camera there, they send fighter jets of sorts to attack, which only provokes her.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

GIVEAWAY: Cirque Dreams Holidaze, 12/17 at the Fox Theatre {Detroit}, ends 11/28

I'm very excited to attend Cirque Dreams Holidaze next month at the Fox! I've seen Cirque du Soleil in Vegas before, and their shows are always a treat to behold.

Cirque du Soleil sold out their performances in 2009, 2011, and 2013 at the Fox, and it returns this year, from Tuesday, December 16 through Saturday, December 20.

Tickets (starting at $24) are on sale now and can be purchased at, The Fox Theatre and Joe Louis Arena box offices, Hockeytown Authentics in Troy (without service charge) at all Ticketmaster locations and To charge tickets by phone, call (800) 745-3000. Groups of 10 or more receive a discount by calling 313-471-3099. For additional information, call (313) 471-6611.

Official synopsis:
Created by Broadway director Neil Goldberg, Cirque Dreams Holidaze is “so full of energy it could end our dependence on oil” according to the New York Daily News and "a delicious confection of charm, sparkle and talent by the sleigh load." The Rochester Democrat and Chronicle raves, "even the Grinch would be impressed with this Christmas wonderland." "Stuffed with so much holiday cheer and audacious acts, Scrooge would exit with a big ol' smile on his face," hails the Erie Times News about this "Broadway-worthy spectacle." "The perfect way to come in from the cold, forget the holiday stresses and find the magic of the season" proclaims The Oakland Press. Don't miss the international sensation that "Dazzled…at The Kennedy Center" according to the Washington Post.

Cirque Dreams Holidaze is an original musical extravaganza of ornaments that re-imagines the holiday season with over 300 costumes, 20 acts and 30 performers from 12 countries showcasing an endless variety of imaginative, heart-pounding and gravity- defying feats you have to see to believe. Experience gingerbread men flipping mid air, toy soldiers marching on thin wires along with snowmen, icemen and penguins, balancing, jumping and spinning in disbelief. The show celebrates the most wonderful time of the year with singers, choreography and exciting production numbers. Performers twirl, bounce and soar thru the air to original music and seasonal favorites brought to life within a stage setting of gigantic gifts, colossal candy canes and 30-foot towering trees & soldiers creating a wonderland of amazement.

Performance Schedule:
Tuesday, December 16 8 p.m.
Wednesday, December 17 8 p.m.
Thursday, December 18 8 p.m.
Friday, December 19 2 p.m. & 8 p.m.
Saturday, December 20 2 p.m. & 8 p.m.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Giveaway: UDM Theatre Co.'s "It's a Wonderful Life" {Detroit}, ends 11/23

The Theatre Company at UDM (University of Detroit Mercy) will be doing a special holiday production of "It's a Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play," by Joe Landry, and you can win a pair of tickets here!

The production involves seven actors who will be recreating the characters of this classic story, with sound effects, 1940s glamour, and a few surprises. The show opens on December 5th.

Performances take place on the lower level of the Student Life building on the UDM McNichols Campus (4001 W. McNichols Rd., Detroit) at 8pm on December 5th and 7th, and you can buy tickets hereIndividual tickets are $20 for Adults and $17 for discount admission (Seniors, UDM and Marygrove Faculty and Staff, Alumni, Donors and Detroit residents). Student admission (with ID) is $10, and UDM and Marygrove student admission is $5 (with ID). Group rates are available.

About the show:
“It’s a Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play” retells the tale of George Bailey, a man on the brink of
desperate deeds with a wish that he’d never been born. Through the efforts of his guardian angel,
Clarence, George is shown that his actions throughout life have made a great difference in the lives of others, bringing George to realize, he has truly lived a wonderful life.


Enter via the Rafflecopter form below. Winner will receive two tickets to the 8pm show on Sunday, December 7th. Tickets can be shipped to winner or can be made available at Will Call the night of the show.

Giveaway will end on Sunday, November 23rd at 11:59pm EST, and winner will be notified the next day via email and have 24 hours to respond, or an alternate winner will be chosen.

Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Friday, November 14, 2014

Movie Review: Rosewater

Rosewater focuses on the Iranian government's detainment of Maziar Bahari over allegations that he was a spy. I knew going in that it was based on a true story, but I didn't know anything else about the film, and it ended up being very interesting.

Maziar (Gael Garcia Bernal) lives in London with his wife, who is six months pregnant. He was born in Iran, so it makes sense that Newsweek sends him back to Iran in June 2009 to cover the election; he'll also get the chance to visit with his mother, who still lives there. He films both the election and the dissent that follows, and the next day, men from the Iranian forces come to his mother's house and take him to prison, where he will remain for the next four months because they're convinced Maziar is a spy for the U.S. government and Newsweek.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

The circus is in town! Ringling Bros + Barnum & Bailey at the Palace {Detroit area}, through 11/16

*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 in town, as of last night, and I was able to attend opening night at the Palace of Auburn Hills (Detroit area).

I had attended the circus last year as well, and although I ultimately enjoyed the acts more that year, this year had many amazing acrobats, animals, and more.

I will say we left at intermission this year, because I was tired (I'm battling an ongoing cold) and I'm headed to Dearborn for a staycation starting today (follow along with #EcoTravelwithadoba!) and had to pack for that.

The following performances are still left, and you can buy tickets here - tickets start at $14:

  • Today (Thursday, 11/13) at 7:30pm
  • Friday, 11/14 at 11am and 7:30pm
  • Saturday, 11/15 at 11:30am, 3:30pm, and 7:30pm
  • Sunday, 11/16 at 1pm and 5pm

Do you have any childhood memories of going to the circus, and if you have kids (or nieces/nephews, etc.) have you ever brought them to the circus?

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Yes/No Foods: Boneless Wings Taste Test, Sonic vs. Buffalo Wild Wings

*Disclosure: Sonic has sponsored this blog post. The opinions expressed, however, are my own.

I'm sure most of you have been to Buffalo Wild Wings for boneless wings, as it's a national chain. And perhaps you've been to Sonic as well. But did you know that Sonic now carries boneless wings?

I decided to put my old standby, B-dubs, to the test; but first, I started with Sonic's wings.

Although the closest Sonic to me is in Madison Heights, MI, I stopped by the Commerce Township location, as it's closest to my parents' place. I can vaguely recall doing drive-through there a while back, but I had not been to a Sonic in a long time.

I decided to get two orders of the new boneless wings: BBQ (covered in a sauce made with brown sugar) and the Asian Sweet Chili, made in a soy sauce with ginger, lemongrass, and spicy red pepper flakes. I did not try the Buffalo boneless wings, as I dislike sauces that are very spicy or hot.

I also got a "mini" size portion of both the onion rings and the pickle chips (fried pickles). I like that they offered "mini" as a size, because that way I could sample a bit of everything without going way overboard on calories. I will say that the drive-through took a few minutes longer than I had expected, but they said they were making the wings fresh (so I was fine with waiting).

My dad preferred the regular BBQ boneless wings to the Asian Sweet Chili, as he tends to not like any spice at all, and I preferred the Asian Sweet Chili, as it had a little bit of a kick. Both flavors were softer in consistency than I thought they would be, but still good.

The wings are priced at $3.99 for six, $7.79 for twelve, and $14.99 for twenty-four, which is an excellent deal, in my opinion - that's about 67 cents per wing, if you do the order of six like I did, or about 65 cents if you get twelve wings.

Monday, November 10, 2014

GIVEAWAY: Rumors of War DVD {starring Ben Davies, Mac Powell, Eric Roberts}, ends 11/17

Rumors of War is being released on DVD tomorrow, November 11th, and you can win a copy here.

I haven't seen the movie yet, but the trailer looks pretty interesting. I'm a fan of war/action movies in general, too.

Official synopsis:
In the post apocalyptic future, Agent Shaw (Ben Davies, Courageous) works for the only surviving government working to bring order to a world full of decay and violence. Shaw offers little mercy to those that would stand in the way of the government’s edict, that everyone submit to an implanted chip that tracks their movements and purchases. He is certain that those “zealots” that would put their belief in God ahead of the beliefs of society, could lead the world back on the road toward destruction. The zealots need to be eliminated. But his faith was challenged when he found a small book in the rubble near one of the “rebel” encampments- the diary of young college student named Roxy (Jennifer Cooper), who was at the epicentre of the chip’s creation years before. She was a young aspiring journalism major whose life took a dark turn when she began researching Mr. Zurn (Eric Roberts, The Dark Knight), the man behind this implanted chip.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Movie Review: Interstellar

Confession: I usually don't write movie reviews for films I see after they've already hit theaters. I consider it a bit of a "break" for myself, and I wasn't planning on writing one for Interstellar either. However, a day later it's still stuck in my head, and it's a fantastic and ambitious piece of filmmaking that I wanted to share with you.

The plot is complex, but the basics are that a 30-something former NASA employee, Coop (Matthew McConaughey), now works as a farmer. Crops and food have been scarce and are needed for this dystopian world, where raging duststorms are prevalent. He lives with his father-in-law, Donald (John Lithgow), and his two children, Murphy (Mackenzie Foy, and later, Jessica Chastain) and Tom (Timothee Chalamet, and later, Casey Affleck). His wife passed away a few years ago due to a clot, which would have been found except there are no more MRI machines. 

Strange occurrences have been happening in Murph's room, with books falling out of the shelves, and she and Coop translate some Morse code to get a set of coordinates. When they drive to the coordinates, they get a surprise: NASA, thought to be defunct, is still up and running. Professor Brand (Michael Caine), whom Coop actually knew from his time at NASA, tells him that Earth will soon be inhabitable, and entices him to go on a space mission with his daughter, Amelia (Anne Hathaway), to find another planet for future generations that is more inhabitable. The catch: Coop won't know how long he'll be gone, and he'll potentially miss out on the rest of his children's childhood.

Friday, November 7, 2014

Movie Review: Big Hero 6

I didn't even know Big Hero 6 was about a "robot" of sorts until recently - Baymax, the "robot" in question, is of course a big part of the trailer and movie poster, but he has one specific purpose that isn't shown as much. I also wasn't expecting much from the movie, but it ended up being very good, with fantastic 3D.

14-year-old Hiro Hamada (voiced by Ryan Potter) is a prodigy who graduated high school at age 13, and now prefers to do illegal 'bot racing in his spare time. His brother, Tadashi (Daniel Henney), is a student at the local tech university, where he and his "nerd" friends design all sorts of cool new tech. Tadashi inspires Hiro to design a project for the school's showcase, in which a young person will be selected to join the university, and Hiro's project goes over very well; however, later in the evening there is a fire at the school, and Hiro's life is forever changed.

Later, Hiro finds out that his project did survive the fire, and he and Tadashi's friends must team up in order to take down the evil villain who has stolen the project ... whose identity may end up surprising you.

Movie Review: Laggies

From its description, Laggies sounded like it could provide an interesting spin on the age-old dilemma of growing up uncertain of what you want to do with your life. Although I wanted more back story on the characters, the movie ended up being cute, though I unfortunately can't classify it as anything past a "fluffy romcom."

Megan (Keira Knightley) has hung out with the same group of friends since high school, including Allison (Ellie Kemper), who is engaged, another friend who is married and pregnant, and a third friend who is married. Megan is about 28 years old and lives with her boyfriend, Anthony (Mark Webber), whom she has been dating since her sophomore year of high school. She also doesn't really have any job prospects, even though she has an advanced degree in counseling, so she's currently the "sign girl" - twirling a sign around outside - for her dad's law firm. When Anthony proposes, Megan of course says yes, but internally is freaking out, and when he wants to elope, she makes up an imaginary conference to go to, and escapes from her life for the week by staying with Annika (Chloe Moretz), a new teenage friend.

Megan's character is definitely relatable in this movie, especially for those in their 20s or early 30s. Even though she has a Masters degree of some kind, she's figured out that she isn't cut out for what her degree is in (counseling), and that it's easier just to be the "sign girl" for her dad and hang out at their house some days. When she meets Annika (Moretz) and her friends, she's brought back to how easy it was to be a high schooler, at least career-wise, and she starts hanging out with them, which Annika's dad (Sam Rockwell) finds extremely strange at first.

Friday, October 31, 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 more cocky.

Monday, October 27, 2014

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. - Millennium Entertainment

Friday, October 24, 2014

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:

Rick Grimes - or is it? ;)
The "cast" of the Walking Dead

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 to his recording credits, Craig Duncan has written over 30 music instruction publications for Mel Bay Public. 

CD Track Listing:

Jingle Bells
Happy Holiday/Holiday Season
The Merry Christmas Polka (Webster/Burke)
Mele Kalikimaka
Joy To The World
Silver Bells
Sleigh Ride
A Holly Jolly Christmas
We Need A Little Christmas
Here Comes Santa Claus
The Merry Christmas Polka (Phelps)
Frosty The Snowman
Jolly Old St Nicholas
Christmas Time Is Here
Overall, I enjoyed the CD - I popped it into the CD player of my car and took some "Christmas" with me - even, yes, this early in the season.

My favorite tracks were #2 (Happy Holiday/Holiday Season) and #4 (Mele Kalikimaka), because they were different than any other Christmas music I've heard before - more of an "old world" / "old time" feel, which I liked.

You can win a $10 Family Christian appreciation certificate (like a gift certificate) here on my blog, as well, and use it to buy this CD or whatever else you would like.

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 no idea that John used to be a hitman, and in fact worked with the mafia kingpin father of one of the thugs, and they soon find out they chose the wrong guy to beat and rob.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

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 are an unlikely group of friends, and though they have their differences, they have one thing in common: since they met Iesodo, their lives have never been the same. Now they’re out to spread his message of hope to the entire bird world!

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 here and here for 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 comedy starring America's favorite St. Bernard, the one and only Beethoven! After a doggone disaster of a movie shoot, the big-hearted pooch and his trainer, Eddie (Jonathan Silverman, Beethoven's Big Break), are heading home when they get stranded in a small coastal village. When Beethoven befriends a local boy (Bretton Manley), he helps him find a pirate map to lost treasure and together they em-bark on an adventure that brings the whole town together. Co-starring Morgan Fairchild (Flamingo Road), Kristy Swanson (Buffy the Vampire Slayer), Bretton Manley (Ted), and Jeffrey Combs (Re-Animator), it's a heartwarming "tail" about finding fun wherever your nose leads you.


Enter via the Rafflecopter form below. Giveaway will end on Monday, November 3rd at 11:59pm EST, and winner will be contacted via email the next day and have 24 hours to respond, or an alternate winner will be chosen.

U.S. residents only, please.

Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

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 Hills from 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 Bros. is the Tower Tumblers, a troupe of competitive aerial athletes from the Ukraine who launch themselves from trampolines to scale, rappel and pass through a three-story high translucent tower. Ringling Bros. brings a spirited and fiery competition of basketball with the next generation of whirling unicyclists, the legendary King Charles Troupe hailing from New York City!

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?

Merle Dixon, Walking Dead
(Michael Rooker)
With your extensive resume playing villainous characters, how important is it to you that they have redeeming qualities, and which [character] was your favorite to play outside of Guardians of the Galaxy and The Walking Dead?

It's not that important to me that they have redeeming qualities - I just play the role, the writers write it. If they write in redeeming qualities, then the character has [those]; if they don't, then I do whatever I'm supposed to do - kill, maim, burn.

And what's your favorite? Between killing and maiming? (laughter)

Yes/No Films: I saw on your Facebook page that you're filming a movie here in Atlanta. Can you talk about that?

The new movie is the Buddy Bolden story, who is considered the grandfather of jazz. Before ragtime was ragtime, he was blowing his horn, and doing it in such a way that people would come and see him and dance and have a great time. He was a great musician. It's a beautiful story - it's a sad story - and it needed to be told in some form or another. It takes place in New Orleans, 1905 to 1930-ish ... pretty cool movie.

I want to know: how would Merle Dixon handle Terminus - if he got there?

Merle's got the knife on him so they probably would've taken it off him. When your back's against the wall, you do a lot of interesting things. I think they played it right - I saw it, and thought it was ... I'm like any other fan, thinking "How are they going to get out of this? That's impossible!" The filmmakers and producers and writers and directors and actors seem to find some way out. Who knows ... I come up with ideas on the day, on the spur of the moment type thing ... I don't usually speculate about it until I'm in a situation.

And my favorite question/answer:
If your character hadn't died in season 3, how well do you think Merle would be fitting in with the rest of the cast?

How well do you think the rest of the cast would fit in with Merle?

A big thanks to Mr. Rooker and the Walker Stalker Con team for setting up this interview.