GET HAILEY AN iPAD!

     The following conversation (reported verbatim) was actually heard by this writer while “shopping” at a large discount department store whose headquarters is based in Minneapolis.
     The scene: two woman, both in their later 30’s, are on a shopping trip. Both are assumed to be mothers of kids under the age of eighteen. “Woman A” speaks to “Woman B”:
     WOMAN A:  “I don’t exactly know what to get for Haley as she’s getting a bit old for her Barbies.”
     WOMAN B: “Do what I did for my kiddos. Something she can use. Why not get Haley an iPad?”
     WOMAN A: “That’s the perfect choice!”
     WOMAN B: (Reaching for her smartphone while poking her finger on the touchstreen)
“There’s one available for fifty dollars off at (name of store)!”
     WOMAN A: “(Name of store) is right around the corner. We can head out there soon!”
     To recap, it appears within this brief encounter that two post modern moms were out shopping for their kids as one suggests that one of them (mom of Haley, Hailie, Hailee, or what other spelling of this name exists) gets her kid a toy that’s more suited for adults rather then for kids. And from observing from these two women (a pair of “Gen X” aged mothers, both toting smartphones), that getting this kind of electronic plaything is ideal for a girl of her age. (It isn’t exactly know what the specific age of the Haily, etc. is, but what difference does this make??)
     Those that are shopping for Christmas/Holiday gifts for a person of adult age and mind is surly one thing, but when it comes to getting gifts for the kids in one’s life, then that’s a whole different matter as that stands. As these people under the age of eighteen get older faster (or so it seems), treating these same people as age appropriate tends to get tangled somewhere, at times not knowing when these kids stop being kids and when they become respectable adults living in a so-called adult world.
     Sure, any proud parent of a child would like these same little folks to become wiser and understanding, knowing that they can do nearly anything and everything they want and desire–within reason of course! And what better way to guide a child into the right (or proper) direction is to respect these same people as an adult, even though that adulthood is still many years off. But parenthood as it is tends to at times shift between what the parent (or “mom” in this case) sees through their own eyes and mind verses what others might discover that’s not necessarily in sync.
     For starters, this writer isn’t condemning the unnamed mom in the above script of getting their kid an iPad. In fact, many schools out there use these devices in the classroom, the same way that kids were exposed with audio/visual tools that existed before. And using such tools in the classroom were praised by critics, experts, and parents alike. For instance, Reader’s Digest printed an article c. 1960 (taken from another source) about how classrooms were gaining new insights by screening educational films as part of the teaching curriculum. These films, produced by such firms as Cornet Films, Encyclopedia Britannia Films, McGraw-Hill, and other companies, created films distributed on 16 mm that spoke about nearly all topics usually taught in elementary, junior high/secondary, and high school. This teaching through film was used as early as the post war years of the 1940’s, but was in constant use well into the 1980’s when videotape took over, continuing its use up until the start of the 21st century. This is when computer based devices came rolling in.
    And these parents are the age where they were exposed to such stimuli, passing this form of communication to their kids. And kids as they are, take on technology like fish in water. There are kids as young as the age of eight that use smartphones. And an electronic pad device created by Apple or anyone else, is just another extension to their realm of having their kids enter the world of adults a whole lot sooner.
     So come December 25th or so, where the moment comes for families to exchange gifts, one can bet that somewhere out there, that little Hailee will get her first(?) iPad! And as she hits the social media portal of her choosing, she can sport to her friends (real of virtual) that she can do whatever one can do on these kind of gadgets. It’s just another day in the life of domesticated North America!
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NEWS AND REVIEWS
     The Eclectic Company Theatre presents MERRY F—IN’ CHRISTMAS, Y’ALL, Marnie Olson’s comedy about a dysfunctional family gathering for the holiday season.
     The Jensen family of Texas traditionally spends the Christmas season in a rented cabin within the wilds of Colorado. The gathering clan consists of mother Lucie (Dianne Travis), her adult kids Mia (Marnie Olson), her three brothers; eldest Liam (Mike Goulis), middle sibling Curtis (Julian Vlcan), and youngest Gunner (Daniel Pittack), along with Liam’s spouse Rhiannon (Ivy Jones), a rodeo queen cowgirl thirty years his senior, as well as Mia’s companion Alana (Erin Treanor). The goal of this holiday get together, at least according to Lucie, is to take part in an old fashion Christmas as well as to have a bit of family bonding. However, the bonding that is suppose to occur unbonds rather quickly, from excessive drinking to the notion that Mia must face the fact that she must announce that Alana isn’t a roommate, but a domestic partner, in spite of what Lucie believes. After all, what is a family get together without the fighting, bickering, and boozing to make the sprits bright(er)?
     This original play by Marnie Olson who appears as Mia, has all of the stock comical situations when families, long grown up and long apart, tends to bring when they are gathered together for one reason or another, either by choice or through circumstance! The comedy leans toward goofiness than wit. At times, the actions run close near to the point where fists would fly–but nobody beats each other in the physical sense. Their only beatings come through barbs and simple insults. Kerr Seth Lordygram directs a show that has the fellow players go through their emotions as sitcom skits, except there is more cussing heard in this production than one would experience on a standard TV comedy!
     Also rounding out the cast is Caroline Marchall as Rachel, a gal that had a vague link to the family and was Gunner’s pickled pick up from a local dive bar.
      In short, MERRY F—IN’ CHRISTMAS, Y’ALL is not a play for the entire family, even with its Christmas theme attached! Then again, a lot of folks may come from whacked out families, but nothing would even come close to what takes place on stage, or at least not in this method. Perhaps this is why Christmas comes but once a year!

     MERRY F—IN’ CHRISTMAS Y’ALL, performs at the Eclectic Company Theatre, 5312 Laurel Canyon Blvd, Valley Village, until January 5th, 2014. Showtimes are Friday and Saturday nights at 8:00 PM, and Sunday evenings at 7:00 PM. For reservations and information, call (818) 508-3003, or via online at http://www.EclecticCompanyTheatre.org
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     AMERICAN HUSTLE (Columbia) is a saga that tells the tale of a group of people on the “hustle” to bring a scandal up and running in The Big Apple set in the latter part of the 1970’s.
     Christian Bale is Irving Rosenfield, a New York based businessman who started out working for his father in the glass business. As a kid, he broke window panes within his Bronx neighborhood, only to have his father fix them. He gained his father’s business as an adult, adding on a few dry cleaner shops, as well as did a few shady dealings from selling collectable art (stolen and/or forged), as well as making high interest loans to those desperate enough to pay for them. At a party, he meets up with smart and seductive Sydney Prosser (Amy Adams), who he falls for. Before long, these two become a couple, as she gets into Irving’s con schemes. Things begins to turn when, after being successful in their scams, the pair gets caught in a sting with FBI agent Richie DiMaso. (Bradley Cooper). As a deal between Irving and Sydney, Richie arranges the two to participate in another sting operation with Carmine Polito (Jeremy Renner), the mayor of a community in New Jersey working to set up a few casinos in nearby Atlantic City with a chapter of the mafia based in Miami. One player in this team that is added to the mix is Rosalyn Rosenfield (Jennifer Lawrence), Irving’s wife. She’s the one that may have this operation turn into another direction, as the gilt and glamor of the late 1970’s type of fast moving lifestyle of booze and drugs adds to everything else in between.
     This is the type of movie that has a lot of compounded characters involved in elaborate situations. The acting between the three leading characters is intense, each one performing as either the “good guy” or the bad one, depending on the nature of each scenario. The plot shifts into one gear, shits into a second, and back to a third in a seamless method. David O. Russell, fresh out of his previous picture of 2012, Silver Lining Playbook, is back to take charge of this feature with the same style and character that made his last movie work so well. Russell co-wrote the screenplay with Eric Warren Singer that is somewhere between a quirky comedy and an inside job-type thriller. Outside of the plot and performing witnessed within this feature, the costumes as designed by Michael Wilkinson, Judy Becker’s production design, and Jesse Rosenthal’s art direction gives this period piece its late 1970’s-era look and feel when men’s ties were wide, woman’s cleavage lines were deep, disco was the latest wave, and nearly everyone wore “bad” hair! (Or at least this is how it all looks some 35 years after the fact!)
     Rounding out the cast of noteworthy mention is Jack Huston, Michael Peña, and Louis C.K. as Stoddard Thorsen, a chief of the FBI’s operation behind this con grabbers. (It also features an amusing bit part by a leading star. This writer won’t mention this person’s name as it would be a “spoiler”. However, this same player appeared in director Russell’s last picture!)
     And speaking of the music, there is a load of 70’s era songs added on the soundtrack. A few are nicely integrated in the scenes as used, while a few play as part of the “invisible jukebox” syndrome that period movies tend to become a victim of. (Music played on the soundtrack that doesn’t appear to be coming from any sound device found within the scene, but is only heard to set a mood or theme.) Danny Elfman provides the background score that isn’t as memorable to the rest of the established songs used in this movie.
     Although AMERICAN HUSTLE is a well written and acted film, it’s nearly, but not quite, entertaining in the traditional sense; That is, it won’t bring a smile to one’s face as this is not a “feel good” movie, and the action isn’t as overpowering as to a summer release. However, this picture is set to be Sony Studio’s entry in the “gimmie and Oscar” race, completing with other titles from other studios both big and small that’s out looking for awards to cop! Indeed, this movie will be nominated for something by some guild since its appeal are to those that remember the late 1970’s very well! (Is that last mention a subtle hint?)
     This feature is rated “R” for sexual content, mild violence, cussing, and drug usage. Now playing in limited markets. Opens on December 18th (Wednesday) nationwide.
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     ANCHORMAN 2: THE LEGEND CONTINUES (Paramount) features Will Ferrell as the named legend Ron Burgundy, the anchorman now working the big time, New York City c.1980. Along at his side is anchorwoman and wife Veronica Corningstone (Christine Applegate). Things start to change with Veronica is promoted to lead the evening news, and Ron, thanks to his previous screwing up through past newscasts, is fired. This leads to his wife’s breakup. Now on his own, Ron is reduced to returning back to San Diego hosting a dolphin attraction at Seaworld. But an offer arrives to him. It seems that a 24 hour news channel is starting up financed by an Australian airline mogul named Kench Allenby (Josh Lawson), and they want Ron to anchor the news–between 2:00 and 5:00 AM! Taking the opportunity, he assembles his news team, crack man on the street reporter Brian Fantana (Paul Rudd), weatherman Brick Tamland (Steve Carell) and sports reporter Champ Kind (David Koechner). This group, pulling the same kind of news reporting as they did back in San Diego, becomes a big hit. However, Ron must deal with a competing anchor on the all news network Jack Lime (James Marsden) who also desires those big ratings. Ron in turn falls for Linda Jackson (Meagan Good) his boss on the network. (She’s black, by the way!) The real news is that Ron is reporting the news his way, while getting those ratings up while climbing to become the number one anchorman on TV!
     This sequel to the 2004 Dreamworks release Anchorman: The Legion of Ron Burgundy
featuring the original cast, is back in the same fashion as the first title from nearly ten years before. The humor expressed in this movie can be described in two elements: stupid yet funny! The comedy level seen can also be elaborated as juvenile, yet appealing in its own odd way. Will Ferrell as Ron still sports his bad hair, mustache, and his outfit of a burgundy suit. (Thus living up to his name of Burgundy!!) Ferrell, along with Adam McKay, creates a screenplay that has many comical scenes (along with a few one liner gags) that lives up to a type of comedy that is amusing for what it is, even a few bits that borders on offensive, and that’s about it. (Nothing that lives to anything close as “higher wit”–whatever that means, exists!) McCay also directs this title as well, bringing the notion of news as “news”!
     Paramount Pictures has been cranking up the hype for this title since late summer, first featuring Will (as Ron) is a few ads for Dodge trucks, and tying in to a few surprise TV appearances from co-hosting a CBC curling match to co-anchoring an actual newscast on the CBS affiliate in Bismarck, North Dakota. (Find these clips somewhere on YouTube!) And the Newseum in Washington, DC has an exhibit based on this film. (The exhibit itself hasn’t been reviewed by this writer) In spite of the hype, this movie is a welcomed alternative for those that don’t want, or care to, seeing a “gimmie-an-Oscar” feature that dons a well written story, hosts better acting, and has all of the elements that tends to appeal to those voting guild members of a certain age. (Read: 60 and older!!) For the rest that enjoy their comedy on a lower level, then ANCHORMAN 2 is the movie to pick. And that’s the way it is–’nuff said!
      This movie is rated “PG-13” for mild cussing, suggestive drug usage, and comical violence. Opens on December 18th at multiplexes nationwide.
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     TIFFI’S FRIENDS SAY…
(As posted on her Facebook “wall”)
To show our sympathy with the rest of the nation, Florida has lowered its temperature. We’re at 66 degrees with bright sunshine. In Florida, that translates to “We’re a bit chilly.”
-Fay

So happy my favorite son-in-law Philip got Sunday off!
-Teri

I’ve been reading all the Facebook posts about people getting the flu, so I finally got my flu shot at TLC Medical Center!
-Alisa

So, if you were me, where would you have put the remote control for the Christmas lights you so you can turn them on from inside the house?
-Lisa

My wonderful skillful husband Tom  fixed the gas log fireplace! Enjoying a warm cozy fire…
-Laurie

Snow Day. And Reilly has been up chatting with me since 6. On a normal school day we have to use the jaws of life to get her out of bed.
-Julie
As of December 16th, Tiffi has 1,937 Fabebook “friends” and counting!
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