Over there! In the water! High above the crowd! It’s — rubber duckie!
Archive for the ‘Brad McElhinny’ Category
Long time, no see!
I mean, we see each other sometimes, but really it’s my goofy kids who come visit you practically every day.
But because the account is in my name, you’ve been thinking it’s me! Haha!
So, anyway, that’s why when I open you up, you greet me and show me a screen of things I might like — like this:
How colorful and delightful!
Except it’s not my stuff.
Anyway, I was really glad you recently made it so you can set up profiles for separate people who use the same account. That means more time travel, laser shootouts and dinosaurs for me — and more cupcake wars for everybody else.
One day we’ll look back at this and laugh. Let’s make that one day now.
Here’s your current “Top Ten Recommendations for Brad”:
1. Geek Charming. Popular high school diva Dylan gains a new perspective on life when geeky wannabe filmmaker Josh makes her the subject of his documentary
2. Radio Rebel. Shy student Tara has a secret identity: She is smooth-talking Radio Rebel, a DJ who lends her voice to all kids, popular and unpopular alike.
3. My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic. Journey to the enchanted land of Equestria, where unicorn Twilight Sparkle and her pals have adventures and learn valuable lessons about friendship.
4. The Lorax. The forest-dwelling Lorax has to stop the short-sighted Once-ler from ruining the environment for profit in this adaptation of the Dr. Seuss classic.
5. High School Musical 2. As part of a plan to steal Troy Bolton away from Gabriella Montez, a scheming debutante arranges summer jobs for them at an exclusive country club.
6. Beverly Hills Chihuahua 2. Canine companions Chloe and Papi exchange wedding bow-wows, then plunge paws first into parenthood as their five pups turn their home upside down.
7. Wendy Wu: Homecoming Warrior. A teen girl focuses on becoming homecoming queen — until she learns she has the soul of an ancient female warrior destined to battle an evil spirit.
8. Vampire Dog. An enduring friendship forms when a boy adopts Fang, a 600-year-old vampire dog, and together they try to stop a mad scientist who wants Fang’s DNA.
9. Avalon High. When a girl transfers to Avalon High, she discovers the school is a modern-day Camelot, complete with Knights of the Round Table, and she’s a member.
10. Beethoven’s Big Break. It’s a dog’s life for stray pooch Beethoven and his puppy family, but when a movie-star canine gets dognapped, Beethoven is chosen to take his place.
I mean, not exactly spot on for my actual tastes. Wendy Wu and Avalon High sound pretty all right. And maybe I should give Vampire Dog a chance.
I’m not sure why I’ve got High School Musical 2 or Beverly Hills Chihuahua 2 rather than the classic originals but that’s OK. Maybe it’s an Empire Strikes Back or Wrath of Khan kind of thing.
Anyway, I look forward to getting to know you even better on our own, new terms Netflix.
If you are a Kindle kind of reader, Amazon has a deal today (June 12) on a book by West Virginia native Homer Hickam.
“Crater,” which is about a mining colony on the moon, is priced at $1.99.
I’ve never read “Crater,” but here’s what Kirkus Reviews says about it:
It’s the 22nd Century. A tough, pioneering people mine the moon for Helium-3 to produce energy for a desperate, war-torn Earth.
Sixteen-year-old Crater Trueblood loves his job as a Helium-3 miner. But when he saves a fellow miner, his life changes forever. Impressed by his heroism, the owner of the mine orders Crater to undertake a dangerous mission. Crater doubts himself, but has no choice. He must go.
With the help of Maria, the mine owner’s frustrating but gorgeous granddaughter, and his gillie—a sentient and sometimes insubordinate clump of slime mold cells—Crater must fight both human and subhuman enemies. He’ll battle his way across a thousand miles of deadly lunar terrain and face genetically altered super warriors in his quest to recover an astonishing object that will alter the lives of everyone on the moon.
“Long-haul trucking on the Moon . . . with raiders, romance and a secret mission . . . High adventure on the space frontier.” —Kirkus Reviews
By the way, you can also get another Hickam creation – “Paco: The Cat Who Meowed in Space” — for $1.99. It’s a Kindle Single, which means it’s a shorter bit of reading at a relatively inexpensive price.
Have you been to one of those places where you make your own pottery?
And by “make your own pottery,” I mean the basic mug or cup has already been shaped and you add splashes of design and color to the best of your ability.
Well, I have, and I am a natural.
My kids took me to “The Pottery Place,” which is one such local establishment — although there is probably a different but similar place wherever you may live.
The first time I went, I selected a mug to decorate. At first it was plain, but I quickly gave it some character.
Or when I have had too much coffee.
I’m pretty sure I succeeded, artistically.
It was a creation of beauty, and I now drink my coffee from it when I am in the office. I have many admirers.
The next time I went to The Pottery Place, I strived to make a companion piece.
I chose a plate. And a monkey.
Using stencils, I quickly traced a monkey design. Then I put my steady hands to work at filling in my design with pleasing colors.
Once you have completed your pottery, you leave it at the store for a week so it can be put in the kiln and then … well, I’m not sure what all happens. It dries or sets or sits on a shelf, building you up with anticipation.
Then you return for your masterpiece.
My monkey plate is not only beautiful, it also enhances the delicious noontime meals I eat at work. Meals like leftover spaghetti.
Can you imagine my joy?
Well, yes, you can because I would like to show you a video.
What will you design at a Pottery Place near you?
Who was that masked man?
You’ll never have to ask that about us. We are geeked out about summer film fare, and we don’t care who knows it.
From a stressed out Tony Stark to a long-suffering Tonto, this summer promises to be a popcorn party.
Herein is what we’re excited about. How about you? Chime in with your upcoming blockbuster favorites in the comments section:
“Iron Man 3″ — opens May 3
As the comic book becomes just another medium regularly adapted to film, this year’s crop begins with the return of Ol’ Shellhead in “Iron Man 3.” Tony Stark, once again portrayed by quipmaster Robert Downey Jr., is now pitted against familiar funnybook foes The Mandarin (Ben Kinsley) and Aldrich Killian (Guy Pearce).
Killian is the architect of the Extremis virus, a bioelectronic solution for those wanting a super-soldier boost in the form of nanotechnology. Shane Black, helmer and co-writer of this entry to the mythos, decided to add a techno-thriller edge to the series with his take. He’s also reintroducing the Ten Rings terrorist group (led by Kingsley’s The Mandarin), a thread from the first “Iron Man” film that’s remained dormant until now.
From the trailer, we get a few clues to what “Iron Man 3” will offer. We know someone destroys Stark’s home. We know several suits make series debuts (with Don Cheadle returning to his War Machine glory and a possible Hulkbuster armor spotted). We’ve learned that there’s an emotional journey to the film that challenges what it means to be Iron Man (and let’s hope that angle isn’t nearly as lame as that sounds). But mostly, we can make the bold assertion that cool-looking things shoot other things, and those things shoot back at the things that shot them.
The film is the first of Marvel Cinematic Universe’s Phase Two offerings, joined later this year by “Thor: The Dark World,” “Captain America: The Winter Soldier” and “Guardians of the Galaxy” in 2014, and finally, “The Avengers 2” in 2015. After a successful Phase One, which was capped off by the triumphant “Marvel’s The Avengers,” it’s not looking like Marvel Studios is stopping anytime soon.
As it’s not clear whether we’ll see another “Iron Man” film within the next decade, most fans are hoping that “Iron Man 3” at least surpasses the slightly disappointing “Iron Man 2.” I’m just hoping it makes enough money to justify giving a solo Squirrel Girl film a chance in years ahead.
“The Great Gatsby” – opens May 10
I’ve already gone head over heels for ‘The Great Gatsby,’ the Baz Luhrmann cinematic version of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s novel, just from watching the trailer.
“Star Trek” was always a tough sell for me. As someone who dipped into the original TV series casually, I always found it a little dull. It never really piqued my interest, which is no judgment of the show. It just didn’t appeal to me. When JJ Abrams’ vision finally debuted in theatres, I was blown away.
“Star Trek” was funny and fast with brilliant visual effects and gave those of us who weren’t Trekkies an entry point. “Star Trek Into Darkness” looks to continue that trait, this time adding the acting chops of Benedict Cumberbatch (TV’s “Sherlock”) as John Harrison.
The film’s official synopsis:
After being called back home, the crew of the USS Enterprise find a seemingly unstoppable force which has attacked Starfleet and left Earth in chaos. Captain James T. Kirk and the crew of the Enterprise are tasked with leading the deadly manhunt to capture the party responsible and settle an old score.
The film promises the fast-paced action and intense visuals Abrams’ is known for, meaning this won’t be just a movie for “Star Trek” loyalists – but an adventure that promises thrills for everyone. At the very least, a theater full of people trying to do a Vulcan salute in their seats.
“This Is The End” — opens June 12
We love Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg for giving us “Superbad” and “Pineapple Express.” We forgive them for “Green Hornet” and “The Watch.” (That I saw “Green Hornet” in IMAX 3D – don’t judge me – with a gift card is the only reason I haven’t gone to Rogen and Goldberg’s homes “South Park” style and demanded a refund.)
Now they give us “This Is The End,” where Seth Rogen, Jay Baruchel, Craig Robinson, James Franco, Jonah Hill and Danny McBride play … Seth Rogen, Jay Baruchel, Craig Robinson, James Franco, Jonah Hill and Danny McBride. Or at least they play parodies of themselves as Los Angeles is blowing up all around them and the boys hole themselves up at Franco’s house.
What we get is no surprise, a raunchy, R-rated adventure that allows a bunch of comedians who are great at riffing to riff all over the place. Plus, you’re getting a cast-against-type Emma Watson, Michael Cera and Mindy Kaling, among others. That’s a lot of funny people shoehorned into one movie.
I’ve already seen the red-band trailer (all you folks 18 and up should give it a look yourselves) and it’s about what I expected from this group of jokesters, which means it’s pretty flippin’ funny. Don’t go into it thinking it’ll change your life and you should be quite entertained. If anything, it could be a table setter for Simon Pegg and Edgar Wright’s offering in the apocalypse genre, “The World’s End,” the third movie in a trilogy that includes “Shaun of the Dead” and “Hot Fuzz.”
But that, my friends, is a topic for another geek-out.
Ashley B. Craig
“Man of Steel” — opens June 14
The granddaddy of them all will be soaring back into theaters this summer.
“Man of Steel” starring Henry Cavill as Clark Kent/Superman and Amy Adams as Lois Lane hits theaters June 14. Cavill is good. Amy Adams is solid and has the hardware to back it up.
This film has been getting hype since last summer when the first teasers were released with “The Dark Knight Rises.” Honestly I was so excited after seeing that teaser that I don’t remember much of TDKR other than Tom Hardy’s hilarious voice.
These teasers (and really it was a tease because from that moment all I wanted was to watch that movie) showed the stark picture of a scruffy Clark Kent working as a fisherman in rough seas and as a boy running around the Smallville farm where he grew up, red cape billowing in the wind.
They were visually the same but carried different voice-overs by the Academy Award-winning men who will play the hero’s two dads. Russell Crowe as Jor-El tells him he’s destined for greatness, Kevin Costner as Jonathan Kent tells him his destiny is his choice.
So we’re getting another origin story on Superman. That’s fine, just fine. If you’re going to do it, you have to do it right and start at the beginning.
Clark Kent’s beginning in this case seems to be more detailed, in that there was life before the Daily Planet and before the cape.
We’re also going to see a villain who isn’t Lex Luthor, which is something I’m terribly thankful for. General Zod is an interesting pick, but picking Michael Shannon to play him is even more interesting. He can be truly terrifying, which is something the Superman movies need. Superman needs a villain worth fighting, and I think that’s what we’ve got with Zod.
It will be interesting if this movie, directed by Zack Snyder (300, Watchmen) and produced by Christopher Nolan (Batman: Dark Knight trilogy, Inception) follows Nolan’s realism approach. Because to believe in Superman, you must suspend your belief in reality.
I’m excited about this film.
I grew up with Christopher Reeve in the cape and Margot Kidder as the gutsy Ms. Lane. I watched the old George Reeves television series and have probably seen every episode of Smallville. My nephew and I are reading the comics on my iPad now.
My friend, who is not a Superman fan, says the magic’s been gone from the franchise for a long time. I have to admit, he’s right. Christopher Reeve was my Superman and always will be. I believed him, even when he stopped the Earth and spun it backwards to save Lois. I believed it all because it was Superman, and he could do that.
I have to be honest, I didn’t hate Superman Returns (2006). I didn’t see the need for the whole ‘by the way, this is Superman’s son’ plot element and I didn’t care for Lois’ vindictive but award winning piece “Why the world doesn’t need Superman.” Seriously lady, take a journalism ethics class.
I thought Brandon Routh was good. Kevin Spacey is always good. The film was shot beautifully. I’ll admit I stood up and cheered when Superman (in full cape and tights) made his first save of the movie, stopping that plane full of people from crashing into a baseball field with a smile and a reminder that it’s still the safest way to travel.
I didn’t hate the movie. It was good, but it wasn’t great.
Superman needs to be great. He’s got to be someone we can believe in.
This might be the one.
“World War Z” — opens June 21
Last summer, my geeky movie pick was “Prometheus,” mostly because I couldn’t figure out how filmmakers were going to come up with a movie in the “Aliens” world that wasn’t a prequel and that didn’t feature any actual chestbusters. “Prometheus” wound up not being the movie I enjoyed most last summer but it was definitely the one I thought the most about. Like, “Uh, what were they trying to say?” I mean that mostly in a good way, although the mishmash nature of the movie certainly added to my wonderment.
I have similar confusion/anticipation about “World War Z,” which is based on a book that I and many others have read. The book is structured as a travelogue with the narrator jumping from place to place to sort out just how this worldwide zombie mess spread so rapidly and how it was finally resolved. Few characters but the narrator reappear from chapter to chapter, and the narrator’s only action is to talk to other people about what they witnessed. This structure doesn’t exactly lend itself to two hours in the theater.
Nevertheless, I’m reassured by what I’ve read about the film version of “World War Z.” Plus, it apparently includes a scene where Brad Pitt has to decide between facing off with some zombies on an airplane or blow apart the cabin and risk his life in a crash. Spoiler: He goes for the crash.
“The Lone Ranger” – opens July 3
So, just who was that masked man anyway?
“The Lone Ranger” solidified its place in radio history with nearly 3,000 episodes featuring the masked former Texas Ranger and his Native American sidekick, Tonto. The heroic pair fought injustice one outlaw at a time in the Old West atop their trusty steeds, Silver and Scout. The tales captivated the country and also spawned a successful television series running for eight seasons. Clayton Moore and Jay Silverheels gave faces to the iconic characters beloved by millions of Americans.
This summer, Disney attempts to revitalize the franchise for the first time in several generations, which coincides with the 80th anniversary of the Rider of the Plains.
“The Lone Ranger” will ride again on July 3, a fitting release date for the American icon. Armie Hammer stars as the former Texas Ranger and Johnny Depp finally brings Tonto out from the sidelines.
The studio is undoubtedly banking on Depp’s star power to help make the revamped Ranger a box office success. Depp’s portrayal marks the first time the Ranger’s unlikely partner has been at the top of the bill. The heavily face-painted and feathered Native American spirit warrior also narrates the film.
Judging from the latest fast-paced trailer, it looks as though “Pirates of the Caribbean” director Gore Verbinski and producer Jerry Bruckheimer have combined plenty of action sequences with the right amount of subtle humor.
In this version, lawman John Reid is left for dead after witnessing the murder of his brother and six other Rangers by an unknown assailant. After being nursed back to health by Tonto, the unlikely duo set out on a quest for justice — a journey that includes the pair blowing up railroads and hunting for treasure.
Whether “Ranger” can compete with proven box office heavyweights remains to be seen, but the footage looks amazing and introduces Tonto and his kemo sabe to a new generation.
All I can say is bring on the summer movie season!
“Hi-Ho! Silver! Away!”
“Pacific Rim” — opens July 12
I’m excited for “Pacific Rim” for a lot of reasons. Guillermo del Toro! Giant robots fighting giant monsters! An homage to one of the best video games of the past decade!
In a throwback to old “kaiju” monster movies from Japan (think Godzilla and Rodan), the film follows a battle for survival against an army of giant creatures that emerge from the Pacific Ocean. After countless lives are lost, humanity constructs massive mecha – of course – to fight the beasts.
I’ve been a fan of del Toro’s work since “Pan’s Labyrinth” and the first Hellboy movie. He’s no stranger to bone-chilling creature effects, and he’s working with the acclaimed Industrial Light & Magic for “Pacific Rim.” Add to that del Toro’s desire to make a movie that is both emotional and spectacular on a grand scale, and we’ve got the potential for something epic.
The director’s name alone has me interested, but when I first heard Ellen McLain’s robotic voice in the trailer, I knew I had to see this movie. For those unfamiliar with McLain’s previous work, she provides the voice for GLaDOS, a sinister artificial intelligence, in the widely well-received Valve video game “Portal.”
Of course, “Pacific Rim” might end up being a shallow, unimpressive action film on par with “Battleship.” Early buzz is rather positive, though. If nothing else, it might just be a fun flick to see on a summer evening. I will admit that I’m not usually a fan of big-budget, silly action movies. You couldn’t make me sit through any of the Transformers movies. Even so, I’m holding out hope that this one will be special.
The Wolverine – opens July 26
OK, so I think we can all admit that, while we like Wolverine, we weren’t too blown away with “X-Men Origins: Wolverine.” (Bigger sin: Making Deadpool a mute, or putting will.i.am from the Black Eyed Peas anywhere near the movie?)
It looks like Marvel is trying to make amends with “The Wolverine” which puts Hugh Jackman’s claw-popping mutant in modern-day Japan. This is after the events of “X-Men: The Last Stand,” so it’s not like they’re trying to create some whacked-out new history for the character. Plus, James Mangold is in the director’s chair for this one. This is the guy who directed “Walk the Line,” “3:10 to Yuma” and “Girl, Interrupted,” and he might offer a new perspective on the character.
And then there’s the story …
Warning: Spoilers are coming.
I’m serious. Here they come. If you don’t want to know anything about the movie, turn away now.
I mean it. If you aren’t plugging your ears and chanting “la, la, la,” I can’t be held responsible.
OK, part of the storyline for this movie can be summed up in one line from the trailer: “I can make you mortal.” A Wolverine without a healing factor? That actually adds some suspense to the film, since, if true, cuts and bullet wounds don’t just miraculously disappear. It adds an interesting layer to the character and a new challenge for him to face.
Jackman does a really good job as Wolverine, and the pieces seem to be in place for a much better movie than Logan’s first solo adventure. Just as long as Fergie doesn’t make a cameo.
In a column in the Saturday Gazette-Mail, I wrote about participating in the West Virginia Reads 150 project in honor of West Virginia’s sesquicentennial. At the end of the column, I asked for some book suggestions.
Luckily for me, several people were kind enough to weigh in with some reading ideas.
My uncle Mike Kiger showed up at a family event last weekend with a big pile of reading for me, including “All Quiet on the Western Front,” a classic that I’ve never read. His pile also featured two more World War I books — “The Greatest Day In History” and “To the Last Man.” Plus he offered up “May flower” by Nathaniel Philbrick. And “The Thread that Runs so True,” a personal account of teaching in Kentucky by Jesse Stuart. Thanks Uncle Mike!
My cousin Rebecca (Mike’s daughter) left a comment under the online version of my column: “We enjoy Marc Harshman‘s children’s books. He is WV’s Poet Laureate, and he happens to live in Wheeling.” Hey, children’s books count just as much as books aimed at adults!
Another online comment came from Elizabeth Fraser. She wrote, “For WV I recommend ‘Old Land, Dark Land, Strange Land : Stories by John F. Suter.’ He was a Charleston native and nationally award winning mystery writer. He has a rabid following in the UK. The Strand Bookstore has a good summary. The library owns copies.”
Jim Hatfield sent me an email and said, “I’m enjoying your column. Hey, have you read Craig Johnson’s ‘Walt Longmire‘ series? The first volume is titled “‘The Cold Dish.’ Now there’s a little raciness and language involved here and there, but his writing is absolutely top notch. I hope you haven’t read the series yet, because it’s such a treat. Besides, it will count as NINE books!”
Mary Browning also sent me an email: “I am sure that you will receive a lot of recommendations about some books by West Virginia authors. I have 3 that you may consider reading. ‘The Dirty Secret‘ by Brent Wolfingbarger, former WV Prosecutor. ‘Dead Ringers – Why Miners March,’ compiled and edited by Wess Harris, Gay, WV. ‘Coal River Rising‘ by Bill Currey, co-founder of the Coal River Group.”
Liz Gay of Edray, Pocahontas County, had a few suggestions. One was John Billheimer, a West Virginia native living in Calif. His books include ‘Highway Robbery’ and ‘Dismal Mountain:’ “His mysteries tend to be commentaries on big/small government, mountaintop removal etc… Wry humor… fun to read … a quick enjoyable read.”
She also suggested “In Country” by Bobbie Ann Mason, a Kentucky writer who visits Appalachian themes.
As Liz concluded, “So many books, so little time…”
It’s been fun to get the suggestions from people. Got any more? I’d love to hear them in the comments below.