Posts Tagged ‘Rise of the Guardians’

“Rise of the Guardians” and the Fall of Regal Cinemas

I hope 2013 is off to a great start for you.  We started our new year at the movie theater and Regal Entertainment Group, the new owner of the Great Escape movie theater in Moline, Illinois, has some issues that need addressing.  This may have been a fluke, but it’s worth noting so it doesn’t become a regular occurrence.


Gretel and I decided today would be the day we’d go check out “Rise of the Guardians”, while Ray was home making New Year’s Eve dinner.  He wasn’t up for seeing a group of holiday “guardians” take on evil.

On the way to the theater, Gretel and I talked about the fact this was our first movie together by ourselves.  As a family, we’d gone to see “Up”, “Hop”, “Rango”, and “Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs”.  Gretel, who is 11-years-old, told me in the car that she was glad we were getting there early because she loves seeing the previews so she can plan out her future movie going experiences.

We get there and we buy our tickets and sign up for the new “Regal Crown Club” card since Regal’s website Friday night had issues and prevented me from signing up online for our rewards card.


After buying our large popcorn and two large sodas, it was off to grab prime seats with minutes to spare.  As we walked in, there were only three other people in the theaters for “Rise of the Guardians” since it’s been out for six weeks now.  As the reminder to the turn off your cell phone begins to fade away on the screen, the image freezes.  This remains on-screen for several more minutes.  Since I didn’t stop at the restroom on the way in, I took advantage of the opportunity to escape and let the usher know just in case movies start by automation now.  She replied, “was it on the turn your cell phone off reminder?”  I said, “yes” and she told me that’s happened recently and the movie will start shortly.

I get back and the theater is pitch black with just music playing.  Fifteen minutes later, there’s still music and theater movie etiquette reminders, but no previews and no visuals, just audio and a dark theater.  Gretel, getting very impatient, asks if we should go to the Rave Theater in Davenport, Iowa, and exclaims, “worst movie experience ever”.

About 30 minutes after the movie was supposed to start, there’s a flicker on the screen and the movie abruptly begins with no previews.  My movie review is coming up, but here are my final thoughts on Regal.  You’re the nation’s largest movie chain.  Welcome to the Quad Cities.  In my seven years here, I’ve been to this theater many times and I’ve never experienced this.  Hopefully, I won’t have to again.  Your popcorn and soda and the free refills, with the purchase of a large, were great.  However, no explanation of the “issue” left a bad taste with us.  When a tween replies, “Maybe Great Escape should buy the theater back”, it’s not a good thing.

We were really looking forward to the previews of “Oz:  The Great and Powerful”.  Since that didn’t happen, a nice solution would be to surprise Gretel with two passes to see that movie when it premiers in March.  We’ll even buy our own popcorn and soda!


“Rise of the Guardians”, a $145 million production, has already brought in more than $255 million worldwide and is a modest domestic success at $90 million.  It’s already earned a Golden Globes’ nomination for “Best Animated Feature Film” and has won several film festival awards for best animated feature.  I think it’ll earn an Oscar nomination in that category, too.

The story focuses on Jack Frost, voiced by Chris Pine, a fun and energetic teenager that makes kids happy with snow days and blizzards.  The only problem is that no one can see him and that is one of the things he wants most.  He wants to be famous like Santa Claus (Alec Baldwin), the Easter Bunny (Hugh Jackman), the Tooth Fairy (Ilsa Fisher), and Sandman/Sandy, who makes dreams a happy place for kids at night.

Jack Frost gets his chance when he’s summoned to the North Pole 300 years after we’re introduced to him at the beginning of the movie.  More and more kids are no longer believing in Santa, the Easter Bunny, and the Tooth Fairy.  But, what’s even more urgent is that Jack Frost is being asked to join the Guardians to fight Pitch Black, also known as the Bogeyman, voiced by Jude Law, who is behind the kids losing faith and belief.

Pitch Black is on a mission to replace happy dreams of unicorns and fun dinosaurs with evil nightmares.  Pitch is successful and his darkness takes over the world with the exception of Jamie, the last kid on Earth that still believes.  That little boy is the last person that can restore believing.  In a last-ditch effort, Jack Frost shows Jamie that there is reason to believe and Jamie becomes the first person in over 300 years to actually see Jack Frost.  But, is it too late????

While trying to restore faith in youngsters around the world to continue believing in Santa, the Easter Bunny, and the Tooth Fairy, Jack Frost learns that he wasn’t always the spirit of winter and that he had a family before he became Jack Frost.

The movie is fun, appealing, exciting, and, at times, very funny and very dark.

I loved the rapport between Jack Frost and the Easter Bunny, who Jack jokingly refers to as a “kangaroo”.  The two have had issues since 1968 when Jack Frost brought a winter wonderland to Easter.  The Easter Bunny is still holding a grudge.  And, a tattooed Santa has a fun edge and sense of humor.

I’ve been wanting to see “Rise of the Guardians” since I saw the trailer last fall and it was definitely worth the wait.




New Year and Happy Thoughts

Happy New Year!

If you had a great 2012, I hope 2013 is even better for you.  If 2012 was just okay, I hope 2013 is wonderful.  And, if 2012 left a lot to be desired, here’s to a better year ahead.

While I lost Miss ABBA in early 2012 and my career late in the year, I had many things in the past year to be thankful for and I’m ready for new adventures in 2013.

Sydney 2013

Sydney, Australia was one of the first places in the world to ring in the new year in style.  We watched the ball drop with Ryan Seacrest and Jenny McCarthy and Ray made us a nice spread before the East Coast celebration.


I’m going to try to keep the new year simple.  One of the biggest flaws I have in life is not living for today and always planning ahead.

In 2013, I have no cruises or vacations planned, except for Lady Gaga in Las Vegas in three weeks.  Since I planned this in 2012, it doesn’t count.



Professionally, I have nothing to report.  But, then again, I didn’t expect to since I had planned on taking November and December off all along.   So, at this time, I’m not concerned about it.  I know something good will come my way in the next couple of months.

Since I was told on Halloween that my contract would not be renewed, my commitment to WQAD (as a product) diminished to zero.  While I wish my friends there, even the ones I haven’t heard from since I was let go, the very best in 2013, I would be lying if I said I didn’t want the station’s ratings to drop.

While I haven’t watched the station since my dismissal, several of my friends have brought to my attention that they’ve had a couple of women filling in on the weather.  I gather they’re both freelance weathercasters.  When I was let go, I was told it was for financial reasons and the loss of the local Fox newscast to KWQC, the Quad Cities’ most watched and dominant news station.

I took that explanation as the truth, but people are speculating that there is more to the story.  Who knows, they could be right and there might be more to the story.  For now, I’ll take management’s word on my dismissal with a grain of salt because I really don’t want to lose any sleep over it.  However, if they hire a fourth weathercaster then it would be pretty clear that their reason for letting me go was a lie.

So, friends, don’t let it bother you either unless there’s something new to report.


As you know from this blog and my posts on Facebook, I love to write.  It’s not all serious and political with an agenda.  I do it as an avenue to express myself and try to ignite change in America and the world one person at a time.  You don’t always have to agree with me.  When you don’t, let me know — politely.  I’ll continue writing my blog in 2013.  Actually, the one-year anniversary is coming up next Monday!

Back in the mid-1990s, I began writing my autobiography.  However, as my television career took off, I stopped writing it a couple of years later.  I did a good job covering a portion of four decades.  So, why would I start writing a story of my life?  While I never bought into that whole “celebrity” thing while working as a news and weather person, I do think that everyone’s life is worthy of being remembered.  I started it for me and for my closest friends and family members.  It’s a testament of my life and what events, large or small, shaped me into the man I am today.  Some of them are common knowledge and some are private.

I need to start writing it again.  Since I stopped in 1997, so many amazing things have happened in my life that I have to talk about — Miss ABBA, Ray, and Gretel.

Also, in college, I wrote a one-hour “screenplay”, with me in mind in the lead role since I had acted on stage in several theatrical productions at Murray State University.  The biggest play I did was a three-night performance of “The Curious Savage” by John Patrick.  I played Jeffrey, a young military pilot shot down in the war and is traumatized and thinks he has a scar on his face, which he constantly hides from others.  Oh, he’s a patient at the Cloisters, a sanatorium.  (It was dramatic, but not as crazy as “American Horror Story:  Asylum”!)

The Curious Savage

While that  1980s “screenplay” will never see the light of day, since I moved back to Chicago in 2002, I’ve been wanting to write and submit a short story about Lake Michigan called “Ice”.  I think this is the year that needs to be approached again.

I don’t need a fortune cookie to look toward the future.  I’m excited about it.


As you recall, last spring and summer, Ray and I started taking healthy eating and exercise seriously and the results were amazing.  He lost about 30 pounds and I lost 25.  Other than losing the excess weight we had gained since meeting almost four years ago, he wanted to look better for his 30th high school reunion and I wanted to fit into the shirt I bought for my October Madonna birthday concert in Las Vegas.  Seriously? 🙂

Ray Young


Well, since those two events, we’ve been very naughty.  We’ve indulged in countless buffets, we eat junk whenever we want, we haven’t been faithful to the treadmill, and we lie to  So, it should come as no surprise that when we got on the scale this morning, we’ve both gained back 20 pounds.  In all honestly, it was fun to lose it and it was fun eating and gaining most of it back.  It also gives us the motivation to get back on track.  After all, Gaga is just weeks away!

After our New Year’s feast today (Ray and Tammy are cooking while Gretel and I go see “Rise of The Guardians” with a large popcorn), we’ll be shedding the weight in the weeks to come.



My friends, I wish you the very best in 2013.  I know that several of us have faced harsh financial setbacks and have lost loved ones (including pets — I consider them people, too) in the past year.

I’m not being mean when I say this, but it’s part of life and I want to quote the song and message that got me through the dark days after my mother’s death in November 1990 and Miss ABBA’s passing last February, “For My Broken Heart” by Reba McEntire:

“Last night I prayed the Lord my soul to keep/Then I cried myself to sleep/So sure life wouldn’t go on without you/But oh this sun is blinding me/As it wakes me from the dark/I guess the world didn’t stop/For my broken heart.”

My friends and loved ones, let’s try to smile more in 2013, let’s reach out to each other more, and let’s focus on the good and not let the bad dominate our lives.

“May hope and faith conquer fear and hate” in this new year and in the years to come.


P.S.  It might be working.  I haven’t said a cuss word or kidded or told a fib in almost 10 hours.  Granted, I was asleep much of that time.  But, it’s a start….

Oscar Is Tempting Us Into Movie Theaters

Going to the movies these days is not a cheap date.  By the time you buy two tickets (even at matinee prices), a large popcorn, and two large sodas, you’re looking at over $30.  I guess that’s not really all that bad for two hours of entertainment, but what if the movie is disappointing.

Prior to last night, I’ve gone to  the movies seven times this year.  I saw “This Means War”, “Abraham Lincoln:  Vampire Hunter”, and the original “Halloween” in the cheap theater.  As for first run movies, I saw “Dark Shadows”, “Magic Mike”, “Argo”, and “The Perks of Being a Wallflower”.  I really hope that when the Oscar nominations are announced in January that we hear “Argo” and “Perks” among the nominees.


When we get to November and December, we start seeing movie companies baiting Oscar.  The superheroes and the serial killer/slashers are replaced by more thought-provoking theatrical releases.  I saw one of those movies last night.



“And, the Academy Award for Best Actor goes to [sound of opening envelope] Daniel Day-Lewis for “Lincoln”.  There’s no need to draw this until the Oscars on February 24, 2013.

When the Oscar nominations come out in January, we’ll be seeing this movie nominated for Best Picture, Best Director (Steven Spielberg), Best Screenplay (Tony Kushner), Best Actor (Daniel Day-Lewis), and likely nominations for Best Actress or Best Supporting Actress (Sally Field) and Best Supporting Actor (Tommy Lee Jones).

Much of the 2.5-hour-long movie takes place in January 1865 as the Civil War rages on and President Lincoln works behind the scene toward getting the 13th Amendment passed that would end slavery.  (In case history was your weak subject, he was assassinated in April 1865).

While watching the movie, I didn’t see Daniel Day-Lewis portraying our 16th president, I saw Abraham Lincoln!  Day-Lewis, who has already won two Best Actor Oscars for “My Left Foot” (1989) and “There Will Be Blood” (2007), was mind-blowing and has a very good chance of picking up his third Oscar.

I could have sat there for another two hours watching him play Lincoln.  You could see the heartbreak he felt about losing one of his sons and the hundreds of thousands of soldiers that died in the Civil War, and his quest to ensure that slavery would be abolished.  But, Spielberg and Kushner also gave us a chance to see Lincoln’s fun side when he would tell stories and jokes.

Sally Field definitely took advantage of the stories we’ve read about Mary Todd Lincoln’s unpredictable and unstable personality.  While going off the deep end in some scenes, she was very much in touch with the politics that her husband was dealing with and you could tell how much she supported him in other scenes.  Portraying both sides of Lincoln definitely raises Field’s chances for a third Oscar.

After the big vote about the future of slavery and the end of the Civil War, we see President Lincoln walking down the hallway and down the stairs at the White House.  If Steven Spielberg had asked me, I would have faded from that scene to the last scene of the movie of Lincoln giving a speech that led into the credits.  I would have cut out the five minutes or so of the movie (two scenes) that Spielberg left in there.  I won’t say what those two scenes were, but the movie didn’t need them.

But, who am I?  He’s Steven Freaking Spielberg!



This Thanksgiving, many people will park themselves at the table or on a couch watching parades and football, while others will go shopping for “Black Friday” bargains.  Many will be heading to the movies and feasting on “Lincoln”, “The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 2”, “Life of Pi”, “Silver Linings Playbook”, “Red Dawn”, and “Rise of the Guardians”.


However, on Wednesday before Thanksgiving, Gretel and I have a date to see “Rise of the Guardians”.  (If we can convince Ray to go along with us, we’ll wait until the weekend of Thanksgiving!)

Why not hangout with Jack Frost and the Guardians (Santa Claus, the Tooth Fairy, the Easter Bunny, and the Sandman) all in the same movie as they fight off the evil Pitch, the Nightmare King?  Chris Pine, Hugh Jackman, Alec Baldwin, Isla Fisher, and Jude Law voice the main characters in this $145 million dollar fantasy movie.

It looks fun and there’s even Oscar buzz for this movie for Best Animated Feature.

There are three other movies that are on my list to see this holiday season, but one will not open wide until January 11, 2013, although it opens before Christmas in New York City and Los Angeles.



This is the follow-up to Oscar-winning director Kathryn Bigelow’s “The Hurt Locker”, which also won “Best Picture” and “Best Original Screenplay, along with three other wins.  It follows the hunt to eliminate al-Qaeda founder Osama Bin Laden and stars Oscar nominee Jessica Chastain.

It’s being billed as “the story of history’s greatest manhunt for the world’s most dangerous man.”



Another touching movie that I want to see is already getting award season buzz.  “The Impossible” follows one family during the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami that left around one-quarter of a million people dead.

It stars Ewan McGregor and Naomi Watts.  The $45 million movie has already made its money back since it was released in some foreign markets in October.  Most of the $46.3 million that the money has made is in Spain.

I know the movie opens December 21st in the United States, but I can’t confirm if that’s limited or wide release.  (I’m leaning toward limited.)


les mis

And, finally, on Christmas Day, the movie adaptation of the successful stage musical, “Les Miserables”, opens across the country.

Watching a movie about a man who goes to prison for stealing bread and a poor woman who is ridiculed for having an illegitimate child and forced into prostitution!  What a depressing way to spend a glorious holiday that already depresses many people!

This movie has OSCAR written all over.  It’s directed by Tom Hooper, who also directed the Oscar-winning “The King’s Speech” and stars Hugh Jackman (“Real Steel”, “Swordfish”, and the “X-Men” series), Russell Crowe (“Gladiator” and “A Beautiful Mind”), Anne Hathaway (“The Devil Wears Prada” and “The Dark Knight Rises”), Amanda Seyfried (“Mamma Mia”), Eddie Redmayne (“My Week With Marilyn”), Sasha Baron Cohen (“Hugo” and “Borat”), and Helena Bonham Carter (“The King’s Speech” and “Dark Shadows”).

What movies are you excited about this holiday season?