Tuesday, December 29, 2015

War Room Family Movie Night {and an easy fudge recipe!} #MakeItAMovieNight

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



My parents and I definitely see a lot of movies together at screenings, but we don't get to sit down and watch a movie at their house or my apartment that often. When we do, it's usually a last-minute thing, and treats may or may not be involved. This weekend, we decided to get together and create a memorable movie night, complete with (super easy!) fudge and some Orville Redenbacher popcorn - yum. The movie choice of the night was War Room.

Saturday, December 26, 2015

Movie Review: Daddy's Home


The trailer for Daddy's Home looked like it could be funny, but I worried it might be one of those times where all the laughs in a movie are all in the trailer. Although this was not entirely the case here, most of the time I was waiting for the laughs to begin, even though a few of the scenes in this film were hilarious.

Brad (Will Ferrell) marries Sarah (Linda Cardellini) and becomes a stepdad to her two young children. The kids resent him at first, probably because they miss their real dad, Dusty (Mark Wahlberg), but after almost a year, Brad is finally starting to fit in with the family. That is, until the kids' biological dad (Dusty) decides to come home for a visit - and he wants to win back the hearts of both the kids and Sarah, essentially knocking Brad off the pedestal he's worked so hard to attain.

Friday, December 25, 2015

Movie Review: Concussion


Concussion tells the story of Dr. Bennet Omalu (Will Smith), who publishes some research about brain injuries that has the NFL very concerned. It's based on a true story, and the content in it is fascinating; however, the film itself is a little slower-paced.

Coroner Dr. Omalu is originally from Nigeria, and he doesn't have much interest in football, or the Pittsburgh Steelers, which are much revered in the city. When former Steelers player Mike Webster (David Morse) randomly dies, at the young age of 50, it is Omalu who performs the autopsy. He finds something very disturbing in Webster's brain tissue, but he needs to do more tests to confirm his findings. After he publishes a paper on his findings, with the help of some of his colleagues, he finds that most of the city of Pittsburgh is angry at him for doing so, as well as the NFL, who would rather ignore his findings and pretend they don't exist. Dr. Julian Bailes (Alec Baldwin), a former Steelers doctor is on Dr. Omalu's side, however, and the two of them continue to try to make the dangers of the results of Omalu's paper known to all football players.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Yes/No Films on the Road: MotorCity Casino Hotel + Iridescence {Detroit}


*Disclosure: This post has been sponsored by the MotorCity Casino Hotel. All opinions listed here, however, are my own.

There is a reason why MotorCity Casino Hotel's slogan is "A Million Miles Away. Right down the street." This past weekend, I was able to stay overnight at the hotel, and I was also treated to dinner at Iridescence, their AAA Four Diamond restaurant. Even though I live only about a 20-30 minute drive from the hotel, it's like entering another world once you step inside.


We had the pleasure of staying in an Executive king room on the 15th floor. "Executive" means that the room had vaulted ceilings - I believe that the 15th floor is the only floor that has these, actually - and we also had access to a "Butler's Room" which did complimentary appetizers around dinner time (4-6pm) and a continental breakfast the next day.


The bathroom was super luxurious, and included a bathtub with whirlpool jets, plus bath salts from D.Tour Spa (the hotel's spa); a walk-in shower; and a TV in the mirror in front of the sink. Yes, you read that right: A TV IN THE MIRROR.

Coolest. thing. ever.

Movie Review: The Big Short


By now, I think most of the U.S. has heard of Lehman (pronounced "Lee-man") Brothers, which went bankrupt in 2008. At the end of 2008, I was a senior in college - for the most part, surrounded by an Ann Arbor bubble - but I still heard about the bank's demise. The Big Short focuses on the housing crisis with mortgages, that was foreseeable starting in 2005/2006 but eventually imploded in 2008, and what some investors did to profit off of it.

Michael Burry, M.D. (Christian Bale) is a former medical student who now focuses on trends in the market. He has an investment firm, and decides to invest all of its capital into "shorts" (shorting the mortgage market) once he sees a disturbing downward trend - downward for the mortgage holders, that is, not investors. All of the major banks think he's crazy and are happy to take his money; later on, Jared Vennett (Ryan Gosling) as well as Mark Baum (Steve Carell) get in on this investment as well, even though at the time (2006/2007) they are actually having to PAY the banks/investment companies to keep their investment.

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Upcoming: Matilda at the Fisher Theatre (Detroit), March 9-20, 2016


*Disclosure: I have an ongoing media relationship with the Fisher Theatre. The opinions expressed here, however, are my own.

Matilda is coming to the Fisher Theatre this March, and I'm super excited to see it. I'm a huge fan of the movie, as well as the book by Roald Dahl, and the show should be great.

Show information:
TIME Magazine’s #1 Show of the Year, MATILDA THE MUSICAL, is coming to Detroit as part of the Broadway In Detroit Subscription Series! Produced by the Royal Shakespeare Company and the Dodgers, the first national tour of MATILDA THE MUSICAL will be coming to Detroit’s Fisher Theatre, March 9 – 20, 2016. Tickets are now available for purchase at all Ticketmaster locations, by phone at 1-800-982-2787, online at www.broadwayindetroit.com or www.ticketmaster.com, and at the Fisher Theatre box office.

Winner of 50 international awards including 4 Tony® Awards and a record-breaking seven Olivier® Awards including Best Musical, MATILDA THE MUSICAL is based on the beloved novel by best-selling author Roald Dahl (Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Fantastic Mr. Fox). It is the story of an extraordinary girl who dreams of a better life. Armed with a vivid imagination and a sharp mind, Matilda dares to take a stand and change her destiny.

Friday, December 18, 2015

Movie Review: The Danish Girl


There's a reason that Eddie Redmayne has already garnered a slew of award nominations for his role as Einar (later, Lili) in The Danish Girl: he's amazing to watch in this film. The movie itself is very good, too, although could have been a little shorter time-wise.

Einar Wegener (Redmayne) is an artist who is married to another artist, Gerda (Alicia Vikander). She has him pose for her wearing women's shoes and some pantyhose, to fill in for an absent model, and he starts to realize that he wants to wear women's clothes all the time ... and that these feelings aren't new. As a fun stunt, Gerda takes him to a ball with her dressed as Lili, his alter ego, and he gets hit on there by a man; soon, Einar slowly starts to morph into Lili, wearing a wig, makeup, and women's clothing all the time, but because this is 1920s Denmark, that behavior isn't always widely accepted. Lili also wants to physically become a woman, and she and Gerda go to a specialist to see what can be done.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Minions Family Movie Night (and Easy Smoothie Recipe!) #MinionsMovieNight


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


I'm a huge fan of the Despicable Me franchise, from Illumination Entertainment, and I was excited when Minions, its newest film, came to theaters. It's now out on Blu-ray and DVD, and my family and I had a movie night to watch Minions, complete with a yummy movie-related snack.

I checked out the Minions website first, to see what stores nearby had the film, and there were a few stores in my area that had it. The movie was released on Blu-ray and DVD combo pack on 12/8, so I headed out after work that day to buy the Blu-ray.

Friday, December 11, 2015

Movie Review: In the Heart of the Sea


I haven't read Moby Dick, and originally I thought this movie was going to be based on the book; however, it's actually based on the real-life events told to the author (Herman Melville), which then inspired the novel. The story follows the story of the Essex, a whaling ship sent to hunt down whales for their oil, and what happens once one of the whales started "stalking" the ship.

The Essex leaves from Nantucket, MA, where we meet our main characters: Owen Chase (Chris Hemsworth), who was supposed to be promoted to captain for this trip but instead is First Mate; Thomas Nickerson (Tom Holland), the youngest boy on the ship at age 14; and Captain George Pollard (Benjamin Walker), who gets to be captain because his father has money. Before all this, however, our story starts with "the last remaining survivor of the Essex," who we later find out is an older Nickerson (Brendan Gleeson), refusing to tell his story to the writer Herman Melville (Ben Whishaw). Melville offers him a large sum of money for only one night's worth of his time, and Nickerson's wife (Michelle Fairley) makes him tell the story, since they're badly in need of the money. Nickerson then starts to recount his story to Melville, not sparing any of the gory details.

Movie Review: Macbeth (2015)


Macbeth is the most visually gorgeous movie I've seen in the theater this year. It is also the hardest to understand, as I am not a Shakespeare fan and have always had issues interpreting his work. I read the play back in high school and the story was definitely interesting; although a screen retelling does help figure out what is going on, plot-wise, the language in the movie still hindered my enjoyment of it.
Normally I'd try to put the plot into my own words, but instead I'm going to leave you with two different synopses:

The short version, from IMDb: Macbeth, a Thane of Scotland, receives a prophecy from a trio of witches that one day he will become King of Scotland. Consumed by ambition and spurred to action by his wife, Macbeth murders his king and takes the throne for himself.

And the longer version, from Wikipedia: Macbeth is Shakespeare's shortest tragedy, and tells the story of a brave Scottish general named Macbeth who receives a prophecy from a trio of witches that one day he will become King of Scotland. Consumed by ambition and spurred to action by his wife, Macbeth murders King Duncan and takes the throne for himself. He is then wracked with guilt and paranoia, and he soon becomes a tyrannical ruler as he is forced to commit more and more murders to protect himself from enmity and suspicion. The bloodbath and consequent civil war swiftly take Macbeth and Lady Macbeth into the realms of arrogance, madness, and death.

Monday, December 7, 2015

The Visit on Blu-ray, DVD, and On Demand {+ win a Blu-ray copy! Ends 12/16}

The Visit is coming to Blu-ray and DVD on January 5th, as well as Digital HD on December 15th, and I have a copy for one of my lucky readers to win! I don't usually watch horror movies, but I saw the film back in September and liked it.

More info:
A family visit takes a terrifying turn when two siblings learn who Grandma and Grandpa really are in The Visit, a found documentary-style suspense thriller coming to Digital HD on December 15, 2015, and Blu-ray™ and DVD as well as On Demand on January 5, 2016 from Universal Pictures Home Entertainment. The first collaboration from Academy Award®-nominated writer-director M. Night Shyamalan and Academy Award-nominated producer Jason Blum, The Visit Blu-ray and DVD are packed with exclusive bonus features including deleted scenes, behind-the-scenes featurette, and a suspenseful alternate ending.

When Becca and Tyler are sent to their grandparents’ secluded Pennsylvania farmhouse for a weeklong stay, they quickly discover something is not right with the elderly couple. Faced with strange rules and increasingly frightening behavior, the children soon realize it will take all their wits to make it home alive. Critics rave the latest heart-pounding thriller from the director of The Sixth Sense and Signs and the producer of Paranormal Activity and The Purge is a “deliciously creepy triumph.” (Scott Mendelson, Forbes.com)

Kathryn Hahn (“Transparent,” The Secret Life of Walter Mitty), Ed Oxenbould (Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day, Paper Planes), Olivia DeJonge (“Hiding,” The Sisterhood of Night), Peter McRobbie (Lincoln, Spider-Man 2) and Deanna Dunagan (Have a Little Faith, Running Scared) star in a dementedly frightening thriller that Shawn Edwards of Fox-TV praises as “Creepy and suspenseful!”

BLU-RAY AND DVD BONUS FEATURES:

Alternate Ending
Deleted Scenes
The Making of The Visit
Becca’s Photos

{Click here to pre-order Blu-ray + Digital HD copy}

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

GIVEAWAY: The Good Dinosaur Roarin' River Game {ends 12/12}

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

Wonder Forge The Good Dinosaur Game Giveaway

I've partnered with a few other bloggers to bring you this game giveaway, based on The Good Dinosaur, which is now playing in theaters.

Good luck!

Monday, November 30, 2015

GIVEAWAY: Santa's Little Helper DVD {ends 12/12}

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


Santas-Little-Helper-DVD-Giveaway

I'm partnering with a few other bloggers to bring you this giveaway. 
Good luck!

Hosted by: Queen of Reviews
Sponsor: Fox Home Entertainment
After getting fired from his job, a slick, fast-talking businessman (The Miz) is thrown into an elf competition to become Santa's next second-in-command. Put through a series of rigorous training exercises to prepare for the contest, The Miz and another aspiring elf go head-to-head in the hopes of becoming Santa's Little Helper.

Dates: 11/30-12/12
Open to: US Residents 18+
Enter to win using the widget below. Good luck!

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Movie Review: The Good Dinosaur


The Good Dinosaur is Pixar's newest, and it's unfortunately got a hard act to follow: last year's Pixar film was Inside Out, which ended up being a smash hit. The Good Dinosaur ended up being a sweet movie, if a little "all over the place" plot-wise, but it's one that I still recommend seeing.

The movie starts with the premise that the asteroid that wiped out the dinosaurs 65 million years ago never hit Earth, and instead passed it by. Arlo (voiced by Raymond Ochoa) is the smallest dinosaur in his family - his two siblings, Buck (Marcus Scribner) and Libby (Maleah Nipay-Padilla), are stronger than him and can help out more around the farm. A big theme in his family is "making [your] mark," which means you get to put your footprint on the silo where they keep their food for the winter, once you do something helpful or useful. Libby and Buck have already made their marks, but Arlo is still struggling. One day, his Poppa (Jeffrey Wright) assigns him to a new job: keep an eye out for whatever critter is stealing their food, and kill it when he finds him. Arlo is game for the task, but soon finds that its a young human caveboy (Jack Bright) who is the thief, and he can't bring himself to hurt him; his Poppa is angry that he didn't complete the job, and Arlo and Poppa go to find the human, only to have an accident occur, and Arlo is devastated.

Later on, Arlo sees the human again and goes to chase after him; he eventually finds himself lost, and he and the human, whom he later names Spot, have to somehow find their way home before his Momma (Frances McDormand) and his siblings starve during the winter.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Upcoming: Chicago at the Fisher Theater, February 9-14, 2016 (Detroit)

*Disclosure: I will be receiving tickets for this event in exchange for posting about it. The opinions expressed here, however, are my own.

The musical Chicago is coming to Detroit's Fisher Theater this February, and I'm excited to see it. I actually saw it back in 2011 when it came to Detroit, also at the Fisher, and it was a great performance. I'm a huge fan of the movie, as well.

More details:
CHICAGO is coming back to Detroit’s Fisher Theatre, February 9-14, 2016, and it’s PURE ENTERTAINMENT! Tickets will be available for purchase at all Ticketmaster locations, by phone at 1-800-982-2787, online at www.broadwayindetroit.com or www.ticketmaster.com, and at the Fisher Theatre box office starting at 10:00 a.m. on Monday, November 16. 

CHICAGO which opened to rave reviews on November 14th, 1996, now has the distinction of being the longest running American musical in Broadway history, and... shows no sign of ever slowing down!

Set amidst the razzle-dazzle decadence of the 1920s, CHICAGO is the story of Roxie Hart, a 
housewife and nightclub dancer who maliciously murders her on-the-side lover after he threatens to 
walk out on her. Desperate to avoid conviction, she dupes the public, the media and her rival cellmate, Velma Kelly, by hiring Chicago’s slickest criminal lawyer to transform her malicious crime into a barrage of sensational headlines, the likes of which might just as easily be ripped from today’s 
tabloids.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Movie Review: Spotlight


I'm going to be honest and say Spotlight probably deserves a better rating than the one I'm giving it - it's a great movie, however, it's also very slow, which caused me to lose interest at some points throughout the film. The film focuses on the Boston Globe and how they uncovered a scandal within the Catholic Church back in 2001, and I didn't know much about the scandal beforehand, so I found the subject matter to be very interesting.

The "Spotlight" team at the Boston Globe gets to handpick scandals and cover-ups that they believe are important to expose. The team consists of Walter Robinson (Michael Keaton), as the leader; Mike Rezendes (Mark Ruffalo); Sacha Pfeiffer (Rachel McAdams), and Matt Carroll (Brian d'Arcy James) as the reporters. The Boston Globe has a new boss, however, named Marty Baron (Liev Schreiber), and he wants Spotlight to focus on a scandal in the Catholic Church - one of the Globe columnists had briefly covered it, but Baron thinks that the scandal goes deeper. Spotlight soon finds out the scandal is actually huge, and they investigate the case until they find what they had been looking for: Six percent of the clergy in the Catholic Church in each city have molested their young parishioners, which, in the city of Boston, amounts to 90 priests.

Friday, November 20, 2015

Movie Review - The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 2


Mockingjay - Part 2 may be the most polarizing of the four Hunger Games movies, even for fans of the series. It moves along at a good pace and is action-packed; some of the other screeners with whom I saw the film complained that it was choppy, confusing, and slow, but I had none of those complaints.

The film picks up almost exactly where Part 1 left off - Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence) is getting treatment for her neck, as it's raw and sore, since Peeta (Josh Hutcherson) - who is not himself at the moment - tried to choke her. Peeta has essentially been taken over by the Capitol, as they've fed his mind a lot of propaganda to make him believe that Katniss is his mortal enemy. Katniss and Gale (Liam Hemsworth), meanwhile, are still fighting against the Capitol, but she's still being held in District 13 by President Coin (Julianne Moore), who wants her to wait for the right time to return. Katniss also has a plan of her own: she wants to assassinate President Snow (Donald Sutherland).

Monday, November 16, 2015

GIVEAWAY: When Calls the Heart Season II Boxed Set - Collector's Edition {ends 11/22}

Season two of When Calls the Heart is now available in a boxed set (MSRP $49.99) and one of my lucky readers will win a copy!

The boxed set includes ten DVDs.

More info:
Season 2 - 10 DVD Collector's Edition:

Disc 1: Trials of the Heart (Movie Version)

Disc 2: Heart and Soul (Movie Version)

Disc 3: Heart of the Family (Movie Version)

Disc 4: Heart and Home (Movie Version)

Disc 5: Follow your Heart (Movie Version)

Disc 6: Episodes 1-5 as aired on the Hallmark Channel

Disc 7: Episodes 6-10 as aired on the Hallmark Channel

Disc 8: Special Features: Exclusive Featurettes with Behind-the-Scenes footage and inteviews with the cast and crew.

Disc 9: Journey to Jamaa - A Short Film by When Calls the Heart Producers Michael Landon Jr. and Brian Bird

Disc 10: Winter in Hope Valley - Insturmental CD


Based on the books by celebrated author Janette Oke (The Love Comes Softly series) When Calls the Heart is a rigorous and romantic adventure as epic as the wide frontier. Erin Krakow (Army Wives), Daniel Lissing (Eye Candy), Jack Wagner (Melrose Place) and Lori Loughlin (Full House, 90210) star in When Calls The Heart, a beautiful story with roots in relationships, faith, and the enduring power of love.

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Now open: MOD Pizza in Rochester Hills serves up tasty eats and local flair


*Disclosure: I attended a media/friends and family event at the new MOD Pizza this past week, in exchange for this post. The opinions expressed here, however, are my own.


The new MOD Pizza is officially open today, November 14th, in Rochester Hills, and its residents are in for a treat: not only is the food great (which isn't surprising!), but the restaurant itself is very welcoming and area-themed.


MOD has put some great Rochester Hills touches on the new restaurant. This was my second time visiting a MOD Pizza, the first one being its Northville location, in August, which also had area-specific touches. One of the first things you'll notice when you wait in line to order, here, is the huge ROCHESTER HILLS sign, to the right of the cash register; it's definitely location-specific!

Friday, November 13, 2015

Movie Review: Love the Coopers

Ensemble films can be a tricky thing. Usually, the cast is packed chock-full of A-listers, as this film is, but that doesn't mean the writing in the movie will be good. Although a few of the jokes did fall flat, the film was a lot funnier than I thought it would be, with some tinges of sadness and wistfulness thrown in as well.

Love the Coopers has a few stories going on at the same time, which later interconnect. The matriarch of the family, Charlotte (Diane Keaton) wants to throw "one last perfect Christmas" for her kids, since she and her husband Sam (John Goodman) are separating after 40 years of marriage. Her sister, Emma (Marisa Tomei), is bitter about being alone on the holiday, even though she's going to Emma's Christmas dinner, and finds the ugliest gift she can find for her and steals it; she gets arrested, and ends up in a cop car with Officer Williams (Anthony Mackie), whom she eventually befriends.

Emma's children aren't doing too well either: Hank (Ed Helms) has recently divorced, and continuously squabbles with his ex-wife; on top of that, he's just been laid off from his job as a department-store photographer. His sister, Eleanor (Olivia Wilde), is hanging out at the airport bar in order to put off the family gathering later on, where she meets Joe (Jake Lacy), whose flight back home has been canceled. Eleanor convinces him to pretend to be her boyfriend, just for the night, in order to avoid "that sad face" her mom gives her when she finds out she's still single. And to top off the family tree, her grandfather, Bucky (Alan Arkin), is mad because one of his favorite waitresses, Ruby (Amanda Seyfried), just announced that her last day of work was that day, and she told a few of the other diner patrons but not him.

Movie Review: My All-American


At the beginning of My All-American, Darrell Royal (Aaron Eckhart) is asked who was the most motivating All-American player for him, and he says Freddie Steinmark. The reporter, confused, says that Freddie was not an All-American. Royal's response is, "He was my All-American." I was about to dismiss this movie as a Hallmark film right there and then, but luckily the film actually ended up being very good.

Freddie Steinmark (Finn Wittrock) grows up in a small town near Denver, and all of his life he's wanted to play college football. He's a very good player, but is small in stature and weight, and when it comes time to look for college scholarships, he's not sure he will receive one. Coach Royal sees some footage of Steinmark playing, and asks him and one of his football buddies to come up to the University of Texas campus to meet with him; Freddie and his friend are both offered scholarships. Freddie's girlfriend is accepted to UT as well, and the three of them travel to Austin for college.

Midway into his junior year, Freddie has been having leg problems - he's been limping all season - but he wants to finish the last game before the Cotton Bowl prior to having a doctor look at it. What happens after that is something that will test Freddie's spirit and fortitude, and a situation that he must try to make the best of.

Monday, November 9, 2015

Upcoming: Trans-Siberian Orchestra at the Palace (Detroit area) + their new album (out 11/13)


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

The TSO, or Trans-Siberian Orchestra, will be returning to the Palace of Auburn Hills this year, and I'm excited to see them again! I saw them last year there, for the first time, and the show was fantastic. If you like orchestras, their show will blow your mind - it's technically an orchestra, but with some crazy guitar tracks and others that will make it unlike any "classical" orchestra you've ever seen before.

More info:
Critically-acclaimed progressive rock band Trans-Siberian Orchestra will release its highly-anticipated new studio album, Letters From The Labyrinth, on Nov. 13 through Lava Records/Republic Records. Known for elaborate production and thematic CDs, with Letters From The Labyrinth,TSO has crafted a bold, conceptually provocative album that pushes the proverbial envelope once again -- this time with what TSO creator, lyricist and composer Paul O'Neill calls TSO's "first hybrid album.” In addition to being available at brick and mortar and online retailers, each 2015 Winter Tour concert ticket sold online will come with a digital copy of Letters From The Labyrinth.

Letters from the Labyrinth, TSO’s first full-length album since 2009’s Night Castle, is a major change for the way Trans-Siberian Orchestra creates new works. It is the first album not built around a completed story. Instead it is a collection of completed songs, which have left the safety of the studio where they were born, and the story will emerge from their combined journeys. The overall concept is based on Night Castle and a dialogue between the wisdom of the past and the hopes for the future, via a correspondence between a child and an old friend of the child's grandfather.

Letters from the Labyrinth deals with subjects as broad as humanity’s journey through the ages ("Time & Distance (The Dash)"), and as specific as the fall of the Berlin Wall ("Prometheus"), the world banking controversies ("Not Dead Yet") and bullying ("Not The Same"), which O’Neill co-wrote with his daughter. Produced by O’Neill at his Night Castle Studio in Tampa, FL, the forthcoming album also features Halestorm vocalist and frontwoman Lzzy Hale on the stirring “Forget About The Blame (Moon Version).”

Collectively, TSO has sold nearly 10 million albums throughout its illustrious career. Night Castle debuted at No. 5 on the Billboard Top 200 chart and is now certified platinum. Christmas Eve and Other Stories (1996), boasted the smash hit "Christmas Eve Sarajevo 12/24" and was certified triple platinum with over 3.4 million records sold. The Christmas Attic (1998) earned certified platinum status with over 1.8 million records sold. The Lost Christmas Eve (2004), featuring hit single “Wizards in Winter,” was certified double platinum with 2.3 million records sold.Beethoven’s Last Night (2000), TSO’s first non-holiday rock opera, was certified gold with more than 650,000 units sold.

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Grand Opening: MOD Pizza comes to Rochester Hills {& Pay What You Want Day!}


*Disclosure: I will be attending an event at the new MOD Pizza in exchange for this post. The opinions expressed here, however, are my own.

The newest MOD Pizza is opening this Saturday, November 14th in Rochester Hills, and TEAM Schostak Family Restaurants (TSFR) will be hosting a Pay What You Want fundraiser, to benefit the Rochester Community Schools Foundation.

The fundraiser starts at 11 a.m. and runs through dinner services, and you can pay an amount of your choosing. There will also be raffles throughout the day, and the prizes include MOD Pizza merchandise and a chance to win one free pizza per week for a year.

I got the chance to check out the Northville MOD location back in August, and it was very tasty. I'm looking forward to the Rochester Hills opening too, as the decor is supposed to be very location-specific.


More info:
TEAM Schostak Family Restaurants (TSFR), a Michigan-based family-owned restaurant group with an expansive portfolio of casual, quick service and family dining restaurants throughout the state, will open its newest Michigan MOD Pizza restaurant on Saturday, November 14, in Rochester Hills. TSFR Brand Leader of MOD Pizza Jake Schostak made the announcement.

In celebration of the brand’s rapid expansion in Michigan, TSFR and MOD Pizza will host an all-day “Pay What You Want” fundraiser starting at 11 a.m. and running through dinner service at its Rochester Hills restaurant, located at 3058 S. Rochester Rd, Suite D. During the “Pay What You Want” day, guests will be able to pay an amount of their choosing for their meal, with all proceeds benefiting Rochester Community Schools Foundation to aid the organization on its mission to support and advance learning for all students by providing financial support for academics, athletics and activities. In addition to the fundraiser, MOD Pizza will be hosting raffles throughout the day with prizes to include MOD Pizza merchandise and a chance to win a free pizza per week for a year.
“Following the successful grand openings of our first two MOD Pizza locations in Livonia and Northville, we are eager to introduce MOD Pizza to the Rochester Hills community,” said Schostak. “MOD Pizza offers a unique experience that is modernizing the way people think about and eat pizza, while forging relationships with the local community, helping local organizations such as the Rochester Community Schools Foundation advance their fundraising goals.”

Friday, November 6, 2015

Upcoming: Mythbusters at the Fox Theatre (Detroit) and a GIVEAWAY! {ends 11/14}


*Disclosure: I receive tickets to Olympia Entertainment events in exchange for posting. The opinions expressed here, however, are my own.

Confession time: I had never actually seen Mythbusters until this past week, when I watched an episode of it. It seems like a fun show, and I'm excited to be seeing the live show at the Fox Theatre on November 28th here in Detroit - it's in town for one night only, and is the farewell tour for Jamie Hyneman, who comprises half of the show.

More info:
Olympia Entertainment is thrilled to announce that the all-new live show “MythBusters Jamie &
Adam UNLEASHED!”, starring Jamie Hyneman and Adam Savage, co-hosts of the Emmy-nominated Discovery series MythBusters will make its Detroit debut at the Fox Theatre for one
night only on Saturday, November 28 at 7:30 p.m.; locally presented by AT&T.
Tickets ($35.50, $45.50, $55.50 and $100 VIP) are on sale now and can be purchased at
OlympiaEntertainment.com, The Fox Theatre and Joe Louis Arena box offices, Hockeytown Authentics in Troy (without service charge) at all Ticketmaster locations and Ticketmaster.com.

To charge tickets by phone, call (800) 745-3000. For additional information, call (313) 471-6611.

“MythBusters Jamie & Adam UNLEASHED!” presents a fantastical evening of on-stage
experiments, audience participation, exciting videos, and behind-the-scenes stories. With this
show, fans join Jamie and Adam onstage to assist in their mind-blowing and mind-twisting
approaches to science. “MythBusters Jamie & Adam UNLEASHED!” brings you face-to-face
with the curious world of Jamie and Adam as the duo matches wits on stage with each other
and members of the audience. Jamie Hyneman has announced that he will end touring with the
live show this year.

Since 2012, Jamie and Adam have toured North America, Australia and New Zealand with their
live show. To date, they have performed in 108 cities, given 119 performances, over 200,000
people have seen them onstage and the tour has grossed over $12 million. This fall, the tour will
perform 31 dates across the US and Canada.

One of the most highly regarded and watched series on the Discovery Channel, "MythBusters"
is now in its thirteenth season. Co-hosted by Hyneman and Savage, the show mixes scientific
method with gleeful curiosity and plain old-fashioned ingenuity to create its own signature style
of explosive experimentation – and the supporting or de-bunking of urban myths that we live
with day to day. 


credit: fastcompany.com

Movie Review: Miss You Already


As you can probably tell from its trailer, Miss You Already is a "chick flick" - but it's one that has some great actors in it, and also one that's more about living and dying than simply "getting the guy."

Jess (Drew Barrymore) and Milly (Toni Collette) have been inseparable since Jess, an American, moved to England with her family at a young age. They've been there for each other's best and worst moments; Jess was there when Milly found out she was pregnant for the first time, and conversely, Milly has been there for Jess while Jess has been trying to get pregnant. Jess and her husband, Jado (Paddy Considine), decide to try IVF, and Jess finally, after all these years, becomes pregnant; at the same time, however, Milly has just received the worst news of her life: she has breast cancer, and may, down the road, have to get a mastectomy.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Yes/No Films on the Road: Six Flags Over Georgia (Atlanta)


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

This past weekend, I was in Atlanta visiting a good high school friend of mine, who happens to have season tickets for Six Flags Over Georgia (Austell, GA). I had gone to the park with her last year, but only briefly, since I was primarily in Atlanta for Walker Stalker Con.

This year, our schedule was open, and we decided to spend two days at the park!

On Friday, because of Fright Fest, the park opened at 6pm. After braving the insane Atlanta traffic, we finally arrived, and met up with a few of her friends there.

Great American Scream Machine

Friday, October 30, 2015

Movie Review: Our Brand is Crisis


In Our Brand is Crisis, Sandra Bullock, a strategist, is coaxed out of retirement to help a Bolivian senator win the presidency. I thought this film would be more like Scandal (where Bullock is more of a "fixer" like Pope is) but instead it was an interesting mix of humor and politics.

Jane (Bullock), sometimes known as "Calamity Jane," has retired from being a strategist and now lives a relatively calm life in the mountains. Two colleagues go to see her to try and recruit her to help Senator Castillo (Joaquim de Almeida) win the presidency in Bolivia; as of the moment, he's failing miserably in the polls, and they know that only the best strategist, like her, can help him win. She initially declines, until she hears who the strategist for one of the other presidential candidates is: Pat Candy (Billy Bob Thornton), one of her rivals, whom she has never succeeded against. Jane packs her bags and heads to Bolivia, where she soon finds herself more emotionally invested in the fate of its people than she originally thought she would be.

Movie Review: Room


I read Room a long time ago, and it was a haunting book. It was written in first-person by the child in the story, Jack, who has just turned five, and it talked about how he and his Ma lived in Room, and how they had always lived in Room. The big-screen adaptation of Room was just as heartwrenching as I expected after reading the book, but it was also very good.

Jack (Jacob Tremblay) and his Ma (Brie Larson) live in Room. Ma hasn't always lived in Room, but she hasn't told Jack this; once he turns 5, however, she feels he's old enough to understand so she tells him the story of a 17-year-old Joy Newsome, who believed the story of a man looking for his lost dog, and tried to help. "Old Nick," as Ma and Jack call him, was that man, and she's been held captive by him in Room for the past seven years. Ma devises a plan for Jack to escape, by playing dead, and he does, with some complications, and he's able to give enough info to the police for them to figure out where Ma is, too. The second half of the film is re-acclimation to The World (Joy/Ma) and experiencing The World for the first time (Jack), where everything is new and foreign.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

GIVEAWAY: Disney Microfleece PJs - 33 winners (!), ends 11/18

This post contains affiliate links.






I'm teaming up with a few other bloggers to bring you this giveaway - these pajamas are so cute! 
Good luck!


Welcome to the Disney Microfleece PJs Giveaway Event!





You may have seen all of the adorable PJs at Walmart recently; Chances are they are from Richard Leeds International, and these PJs certainly fit the bill of "adorable." This line features your favorite Disney character's face right on the front of the plush, long-sleeved top while the pants feature an all-over print. Read Holly's full review here.




This line is available in Hello KittyEeyoreOlafMinnie MouseMike WazowskiWinnie the Pooh, and Mickey MouseFind them in the Sleepwear section at Walmart in store or online at Walmart.com. 

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Restaurant Review: Applebee's comes to Detroit (8 Mile + Woodward) + a giveaway! {ends 11/4}


*Disclosure: I received a free meal at the new Applebee's in exchange for this post. The opinions expressed here, however, are my own.

This weekend, I got to attend a media preview for the new Applebee's in Detroit, owned by TEAM Schostak Family Restaurants (TSFR). It's the first national casual dining chain that's located outside of the city's central business district, and it's near the corner of 8 Mile and Woodward, right in front of the Meijer plaza there.


I've definitely been to Applebee's in the past, but this one had a fresh new layout that I really liked. The ceilings are apparently higher, and the bar area has been expanded and has a ton of televisions; my boyfriend, who was my dinner guest, noted that you could see TVs from any vantage point in the restaurant. The restaurant also has painted murals specific to Detroit, and names of area high schools (Mumford High, Ferndale High, etc.) on the walls.

Friday, October 23, 2015

Movie Review: The Last Witch Hunter


I didn't know much about this movie before I got screening passes for it, other than Vin Diesel and Michael Caine were in it. It ultimately ended up being a bit of a miscasting (Vin Diesel) but did have enough special effects to keep my interest.

Kaulder (Vin Diesel) has been hunting witches since the 1200s or so. When he was "young," he met the Witch Queen, and essentially killed her; however, she cursed him with the "gift" of immortality, and now his life is directly connected to hers - if her heart is killed, he dies too. Fast-forward to present-day, and Dolan the 36th (Michael Caine) is about to retire, leaving Kaulder in the capable hands of Dolan the 37th (Elijah Wood). However, Dolan the 36th is murdered - so it seems - hours before his retirement, and now Kaulder and Dolan the 37th must figure out who did it, and why certain witches are back in town. They enlist another witch's help too, Chloe (Rose Leslie, aka Jon Snow's girlfriend from Game of Thrones), and soon Kaulder figures out something rather disturbing: the Witch Queen is back.

Monday, October 19, 2015

Blu-ray Review: Empire (Season 1)

*Disclosure: I received a copy of this Blu-ray for review. The opinions expressed here, however, are my own.

A few of you *may* have heard of this little show called Empire ... kidding. I had definitely heard about Empire before receiving the Blu-ray to review, as my parents are fans of the show, but I had never watched it.

The show is so addicting that I whipped through season one (11 episodes, but really 12, since the finale is two hours) in about two weeks - and that's with staying on top of my other TV shows I currently watch, too.

I've started watching Empire season two now too (I've finished two episodes now and I still have two to go, three counting this week's - so, no spoilers, please!) and it's also very good, although the settings/surroundings are different.

Top 5 things I like about Empire:
  1. It has SO much drama. In a weird way, it reminds me of Gossip Girl, a show I used to love back in the late 2000s/early 2010s, just because every episode has a few especially dramatic events.
  2. The characters. Cookie Lyon (Taraji P. Henson) is my favorite, and her outfits are always on-point too. Lucious Lyon (Terrence Howard) is probably my second favorite. 
  3. All of the backstories. Cookie has gone to jail for 17 years, taking the rap for selling drugs (which really she and Lucious were both doing), and we get to see a lot of how life was for her and Lucious and her three - at the time - children, growing up poor in a small house while both Cookie and Lucious were trying to make music. The show does a lot of flashbacks, which are always good.
  4. The music. I'm usually not a fan of rap music but this show has that and more, and every episode is like watching a concert.
  5. The hook - at the end of each episode, something dramatic happens, and it makes you want to continue watching the next episode.
credit: YouTube

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Movie Review: Woodlawn


Although Woodlawn has religious elements throughout, there are greater themes at work here too; those of non-segregation, love, and family, to name some. Thanks to these accessible themes, even non-religious moviegoers can enjoy this film, which is not always the case with Christian films; I enjoyed this movie as well, and I am not religious.

Woodlawn is the true story of Tony Nathan (Caleb Castille), a football player in the early 1970s in Birmingham, Alabama, who plays on a high school team that's comprised of 95% white players. Woodlawn High School itself has only just recently become integrated, against the governor's wishes, and the African-American students are not treated very nicely by their peers; even the black football players have trouble fitting in with their white teammates. A "motivational speaker" (as the coach calls him initially) named Hank (Sean Astin) shows up one day, and soon enough, most of the players on the team start believing in Jesus and in equality; this eases tensions among the players, and they start playing like an actual team. Coach Gerelds (Nic Bishop, Covert Affairs) isn't sure what to make of this at first, but he likes the changes he's seeing in his team, and soon he decides to get baptized and become more religious as well.