Thursday, July 31, 2014

WHAT TO DO WHEN A FRIEND LOSES A LOVED ONE

Image: Ma Gali
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In 2005 one of my college buddies lost his mother to terminal illness. My heart broke for him: I was
close with my mom and struggled to comprehend what it would be like if she died. Although I wanted to be there for him, I found myself frozen into inaction, intimidated by the enormity of his loss. I felt inadequate in the face of it. Nothing I could say or do would take away the pain he was feeling. I didn't know what he was going through by experience and therefore felt that I had no place to give advice or comfort. So, to my shame, I did nothing, leaving the consoling to his closer friends and family while I sympathized from a distance.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

THE 'SEXY' CONSCIENCE: DEBUNKING THE MYTH OF THE 'BAD BOY' AND THE 'GIRL GONE WILD'

Image credit: Paramount Pictures
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Now, before you Grease fans get up in arms, let me say that I, too, am a fan. The musical is undeniably fun. I use this photo simply because the finale is such a well-known example of what has become a pervasive cultural belief: nice guys and good girls are boring, while bad boys and "girls gone wild" are sexy and exciting. Allow me to challenge this fun and frothy fiction with the potency of reality: there is nothing sexier than someone with a strong conscience.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Parent Movie Review: DAWN OF THE PLANET OF THE APES


GRADE: A

Cinema reaches a new level of photo-realistic CGI in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, led by motion-capture maestro Andy Serkis (who also brought Gollum and King Kong to life). However, what elevates this film (as with its predecessor) is that these groundbreaking effects are used in the service of a well-written, well-acted story with rich characters and thought-provoking themes. As stunning and emotionally-engaging as the apes are, the human element is equally strong, save for the film's one weak link, a one-dimensional bigot whose actions trigger the central conflict. The action delivers the grand-scale requirements of a summer blockbuster and the production design, cinematography, and musical score earn high marks, but it's the film's brains and heart that'll stay with you after the credits roll.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

SENSE AND SENSIBILITY is Moving and Funny at the UTAH SHAKESPEARE FESTIVAL


My wife and I have seen four plays this past month in Southern Utah, two at Tuacahn and two at the Utah Shakespeare Festival. I’ll be reviewing the other three shortly, but I don’t mind telling you that our mutual favorite, by far, is the latter’s world-premiere adaptation of Jane Austen’s novel Sense and Sensibility. Well-cast, well-written, and delightfully acted, Austen’s timeless tale of propriety, betrayal, family loyalty, and deep-running love gets the deluxe treatment here. The play is well-written and well-cast, a combination that led our audience to frequent laughter at the witty dialogue, tears of empathy for the sufferings of the characters, and ultimately tears of joy for their well-earned happiness. This is an uplifting crowd-pleaser, appropriate for all ages (although young children may get restless).

Friday, June 13, 2014

7 THINGS AMAZING DADS DO


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While some dads are deadbeats and some mothers truly do an amazing job raising kids on their own, the lasting effects of a great father cannot be underestimated. I should know, because my dad is amazing. I say this neither to boast nor to gush, but rather because, in both my personal and professional opinion, he's got this dad thing pretty much figured out. Allow me to share seven fatherhood lessons that I learned from him (along with a few of my own thoughts).

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Parent Movie Review: EDGE OF TOMORROW


(GRADE: A-)

If there's any justice, Edge of Tomorrow will be this summer's word-of-mouth hit. Like Groundhog Day or Source Code, this film features a protagonist who repeats a day over and over until he gets it right (in this case, "getting it right" means thwarting an alien invasion). While the premise may be familiar, the execution by director Doug Liman (The Bourne Identity, Mr. & Mrs Smith) and the against-type performances by Tom Cruise and Emily Blunt make it unique.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

KEYS FOR SUCCESSFUL STEPFAMILIES


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Although increasingly common, stepfamilies (or “blended” families) are often seen either as abnormal or, on the other end, as if they were similar to first-marriage families “once the dust settles.” Research and experience demonstrate, however, that “the idea that the stepfamily must match the original family is flawed. A stepfamily is an alternate, not an aberration.” (Browning, 2014)*