Memo to the NFL: Clean it up or Close it down


Two weeks ago before a video emerged of Baltimore Ravens player Ray Rice brutally hitting his wife in a hotel elevator, I gave my students an assignment as a writing prompt. “NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has said if a player is accused of domestic abuse moving forward, the punishment Read more

What to do if You Just Got Laid Off or Fired


To me, other than the loss of a loved one, I cannot think of an event more disheartening, more unnerving, more earth-shattering than being laid off or fired from what provides you and your family with basic necessities--food, clothing, and shelter. It seems to me, as of late, that everyone I know Read more

Is Ghostbusters the Perfect Comedy? Quite Possibly.


When my colleagues recently organized a matinee viewing of the remastered re-release of the 1984 classic, Ghostbusters, to kickstart Labor Day weekend, I was all in. I've always loved the movie, Ghostbusters, but admitted that I hadn't seen it from beginning to end in over a decade. Sure, I'd seen clips here Read more

A (Video) Wake-Up Call


We’re all guilty of it at one time or another. Our favorite actor, sports star or politician finds himself or herself in a bad place. Perhaps it’s an affair that stuns, domestic abuse that horrifies or – worst of all – murder to another human being. We, the fans, Read more

Joan Rivers: An American Institution


“Think positive. Make a list. “One, I don’t live in Bosnia. Two, I never dated O. J.” I started to write a memorial for Joan Rivers and found the task more difficult than I expected it to be. Why? Celebrity deaths hurt, especially when we feel like we’ve known the Read more

Preserving the Phantom Set & Silent Film History


For those of us who grew up loving film, there are certain moments that are engrained in our minds from movies seen on the big and small screens during our youth. Remember ducking your head below the old theater seats when the raptors chased down children in a massive Read more

Featured

Despite DGA win, “Gravity” Will Not Win Best Picture. Here’s Why.

Posted on by Joseph Williams in Awards Addict, Entertainment, Featured, Movies | Leave a comment

DGA1 Despite DGA win, “Gravity” Will Not Win Best Picture. Here’s Why.

Director Alfonso Cuaron captured top honors from the Directors Guild of America Saturday evening. Largely seen as the top indicator of what film will win Best Picture, the DGA has a proven track record of recognizing the cream of the crop. This year was no exception.

This should position “Gravity” as the front-runner for Best Picture, right? Normally, it would. Even last year, without Ben Affleck capturing a Best Director nomination, his DGA win sealed the deal for “Argo” to win Best Picture on Oscar Night. Why would this year prove any different?

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Here’s to the Ordinary Life

Posted on by Warner Russell in Assorted Wisdom, Bright Spots, Faith, Featured, Television | 4 Comments

officeheader Heres to the Ordinary Life

Before I start, let me say that I’m a Christian. If it weren’t for my relationship with Jesus, I’d be nothing. What you’re about to read might come across as idolatry, but I firmly believe that the things discussed in this post are all things that happened for a reason and things that God ordained for my good.

The past six or seven months have largely been pretty rough. In late June, my dad was diagnosed with stage three lung cancer. By the time it was discovered, the cancer had already spread to his brain and his lymph nodes. A month later, my mom took a job in Kansas City. We’re pretty close so having her move seven hours away was a shock to my system. In the same few weeks, to a lesser extreme, but still one that had a great effect on my personal well being, I began to grow frustrated with my career and started questioning exactly what I was supposed to “do” for the rest of my life. Needless to say, I was an emotional wreck.

About a month before all of this, my wife and I made two decisions that I wholeheartedly believe helped me from going off the deep end. First, we got a dog. Second, we started watching The Office.

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Daft Punk, Macklemore & Madonna Head Up Historic Grammys

Posted on by Alex Beene in Awards Addict, Entertainment, Featured, Music | Leave a comment

grammy1 Daft Punk, Macklemore & Madonna Head Up Historic Grammys

In many ways, the 56th Annual Grammys was a mixture of everything right and wrong with modern awards shows. Performances ranged from the inspirational to the outlandish, but all proved to be the type of buzz-worthy segments show producers were eager to achieve.

The 2014 ceremony was all about the leading women in music. Beyoncé kicked off the show with a sizzling “Drunk in Love” bit with husband Jay-Z. Lorde kept her angsty persona going with a memorable “Royals” solo. Who didn’t love Pink’s stunning descent from the ceiling? And Taylor Swift seemed hell-bent to prove her critics wrong and did such with a stunningly aggressive rendition for “All Too Well.”

Of course, the boys had their fun, too. Kendrick Lamar with Imagine Dragons easily stole the show with an intensity rarely seen on the Grammys stage. Ditto to Metallica’s return and the crazed finale that saw Nine Inch Nails, Queens of the Stone Age and Dave Grohl go ballistic with one of the best rock mash-ups in recent memory.

It was Daft Punk and friends who really owned the evening, though. Think it couldn’t get any better than an on-stage medley with Stevie Wonder? Amazingly, it did, as the crew swept the show, earning Record and Album of the Year. All of the “Get Lucky” love almost made us forget about Pharrell’s outrageous hat. Well, almost.

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A Nintendo Nightmare: How the House Mario Built is Now in Financial Peril AND How to Save It!

Posted on by Alex Beene in Entertainment, Featured | Leave a comment

pic1 A Nintendo Nightmare: How the House Mario Built is Now in Financial Peril AND How to Save It!

One of my fondest Christmas memories growing up was unwrapping a beautiful box in 1996 that contained a Nintendo 64. My mom had skillfully obtained (i.e. bribed) one from a layaway employee at Target. I sat back in my room all morning long, mesmerized by “Super Mario 64. “

The Nintendo 64 is warmly remembered by guys of my generation. What wasn’t to love? From the revolutionary first-person-shooter “Goldeneye” to the brilliant racer “Mario Kart 64” to the game commonly still listed as the greatest ever “The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time,” Nintendo’s 64-bit powerhouse proved to be highly popular in the United States, where sales were solid.

Ironically, though, the console would mark the beginning of the end for a strong Nintendo business model. For years, the company had been the primary force in gaming, and for third-party software makers, getting their game on a Nintendo platform was key to a title’s success.

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SAG, PGA Shake Up Best Picture Race

Posted on by Alex Beene in Awards Addict, Entertainment, Featured, Movies | 3 Comments

HustleSAG SAG, PGA Shake Up Best Picture Race

You say you want an interesting Oscar race? Well, we’ve certainly got one on our hands now. While the acting categories are starting to become clearer, the journey to the top prize is more confusing than ever before.

First off, let’s talk about the acting statuettes. After securing the Golden Globe, Matthew McConaughey won Best Actor at SAG, putting him in front-runner status. Many thought Bruce Dern, as the older gent in the race, would get a win here, but it’s now apparent McConaughey is the one to beat.

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25th Anniversary of Ronald Reagan’s Farewell Address to the Nation

Posted on by Joseph Williams in Assorted Wisdom, Featured, Politics | Leave a comment

reagan 25th Anniversary of Ronald Reagans Farewell Address to the Nation

This week marks the 25th Anniversary of President Ronald Reagan’s Farewell Address to the Nation. A friend reminded me of this fact this week. Although I’d read most of the speech in excerpts before, I’d never watched President Reagan, “The Great Communicator” himself, deliver the speech. I’d read the words, recited some of them even… but I’d never heard him deliver them as he prepared to leave office.

On January 11, 1989, President Reagan delivered this speech from the Oval Office. It exemplifies so much of what made him such a popular President, invoked today by Republicans and President Obama alike. He’s become one of those iconic Presidents that members of both parties invoke for political gain. While he’s not the mythical hero that some have made him to be, watching, listening, or reading this speech will remind you of what made him such a transformative leader.

Some of the highlights from this speech:

And in all that time I won a nickname – “The Great Communicator.” But I never thought it was my style or the words I used that made a difference – it was the content. I wasn’t a great communicator, but I communicated great things, and they didn’t spring full bloom from my brow, they came from the heart of a great nation – from our experience, our wisdom, and our belief in the principles that have guided us for two centuries.

We’ve got to teach history based not on what’s in fashion but what’s important: Why the pilgrims came here, who Jimmy Doolittle was, and what those 30 seconds over Tokyo meant. You know, four years ago, on the 40th anniversary of D-Day. I read a letter from a young woman writing to her late father, who’d fought on Omaha Beach. Her name was Lisa Zanatta Henn, and she said, we will always remember, we will never forget what the boys of Normandy did. Well, let’s help her keep her word.

If we forget what we did, we won’t know who we are. I am warning of an eradication of that – of the American memory that could result, ultimately, in an erosion of the American spirit.

Let’s start with some basics – more attention to American history and a greater emphasis of civic ritual. And let me offer lesson No. 1 about America : All great change in America begins at the dinner table. So tomorrow night in the kitchen I hope the talking begins.

I’ve spoken of the shining city all my political life, but I don’t know if I ever quite communicated what I saw when I said it. But in my mind it was a tall, proud city built on rocks stronger than oceans, wind-swept, God-blessed, and teeming with people of all kinds living in harmony and peace; a city with free ports that hummed with commerce and creativity. And if there had to be city walls, the walls had doors and the doors were open to anyone with the will and the heart to get here. That’s how I saw it, and see it still.

That’s how I saw it, and see it still. How Stands the City?

And how stands the city on this winter night? More prosperous, more secure and happier than it was eight years ago. But more than that: after 200 years, two centuries, she still stands strong and true on the granite ridge, and her glow has held steady no matter what storm.

And she’s still a beacon, still a magnet for all who must have freedom, for all the Pilgrims from all the lost places who are hurtling through the darkness, toward home.

Here’s the full video of the farewell address.

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