April 26, 2013

Here's lookin' at you, Mom! Warner Bros.Giveaway!

Are you a movie buff? One of the reasons we work so closely with so many movie companies is a genuine love of the art of film making. It's such a thrill to get early information as well as offer great giveaways to my readers. 

Today's giveaway is no different. In celebration of Warner Brothers' 90th anniversary, they are releasing a boxed set of 100 classics. I had no idea how many classics were WB films, but the game below lets you guess. There are classics such as Gone with the Wind to modern favorites like The Notebook. What a perfect gift for the movie loving mom.. (hint hint!) 

We also are able to offer a movie giveaway to one lucky reader,  a DVD/Blu-ray copy of either A Star is Born or Cabaret. Who can think of these classics without humming along with Barbra Streisand's Evergreen or Liza Minelli's Cabaret, old chum? 

To enter, just leave a comment below and tell us one of your favorite WB films after refreshing your memory with the "Guess-the-Scene" game. (It's fun, try to beat the clock). Entries must be received by May 10th at midnight EST. 

Thank you to Warner Bros. for sponsoring this giveaway. 

April 24, 2013

On the receiving end of bullying

My last post discussed how I picked on a classmate when I was in elementary school along with an apology that I hope reaches out across the years and miles. I never realized how devastating it can be to be the target of someone's hostility until a few years later, when those same shoes were on my feet.

It was my ninth grade year, first year in high school. My junior high years had been a little bit of a rough transition from the comfort and security of elementary school. In our district, the three small towns came together in 7th grade in one building. So I went from 30 some students in my grade to about 150. That was the same year my parents began their divorce proceedings. It was a difficult and awkward time fraught with uncertainty. But I made a new friend who had just moved to our town, and we began to hang out at each other's houses. My friend came from a very large family and her house was always such fun to visit. The hustle and bustle of a large family just made me feel completely welcome amidst the chaos that was unfolding at my own home. My new friend and I met on the school bus and for the next two years spent a lot of time together.

When we got to high school, we didn't have as many classes together and we drifted apart. To this day I don't exactly know why we stopped doing things together, but we did which is fairly typical of friendships at that age. Around that same time, though, her older sister apparently decided it was time to voice her dislike of me, often and loudly. We still all rode the same bus but didn't sit together anymore. I don't know if I inadvertently did something to offend my friend or if the older sister never liked me and had her chance to speak up, but wow did she. I've gone over it a thousand times in my head, wondering what I may have done. It took me years to realize it wasn't me, but instead just a very angry young woman.

She would get on the bus and if I was on the aisle, she'd shove me as she walked to the back of the bus. I began to cower against the window. She would talk really loud about how much she hated me and laugh at me when I would either try to stand up for myself or goad me into responding if I ignored her. Meanwhile, the girl who had been my friend would just sit and snicker while her sister picked on me. I didn't know what to do or where to turn. There was nothing I could do to get her to just leave me alone. She was so mean and cruel to me. I'm not sure why nobody else spoke up unless they were afraid she would turn on them next.

At school during our lunch period, after we finished eating, we would usually go sit in the gym and watch the intramural basketball teams play. I was sitting with a group of my freshman friends and she was walking into the gym. As she walked by, she stopped to shove me and push her way through to the upper bleachers. She looked at me and sneered, "Get the hell out of my way." I mustered a courage that to this day I don't know where it came from, but I said, "Why don't you make me?"

It was the wrong thing to say. She slapped me across the face so hard I still feel the sting. It happened so quickly that not all my friends even saw what she did. I sat there in the bleachers with my eyes welling up with tears. I don't know why she hated me so much. I tried to act dignified and sat there for a few minutes stunned, until I trusted my legs to take me to the restroom where I could splash my face and try to gather my composure before I went to my Latin class. The bullying didn't really end, but I did my best to avoid her the rest of the year. I rode the bus in silence and ignored her. At the end of my freshman year I moved away to another state, which solved my own bullying issue by attrition. I wasn't there for her to bully.

When I look back on that now, I still am not sure exactly what the solution is. Ignoring her didn't help, standing up to her didn't help. I think she was just mean and probably felt safe picking on me because she knew how to get inside my head from all the time I spent with her family.

I think the best thing we can do on that end is to instill a strong sense of self and confidence in our own children. Make sure they understand that when someone is mean to them, it's usually more about that person's own insecurities than anything. When someone behaves in a way that makes no sense, it's not really about you, but them. I also have wonder if I had pointedly asked her in front of witnesses, "Why are you picking on me? Why are you so angry with me?" I wonder if I had put her on the spot and forced her to answer why she was behaving as she was if it would have diffused the situation. But then again, as I said in the previous post, there is no good reason to bully someone, ever.

At any rate, I will say that it didn't truly damage my esteem or have any lingering effects. I will admit, I looked her up and saw her face all these years later. That was when I wondered if I had asked her those questions what her answer would have been. I wonder if she's happier today than she was then. She looks much prettier than she did then with her scowl and mean words. I wonder if she regrets or even remembers that she was so mean to me. Makes me want to confront her, in a way.

Or maybe not. Maybe it's best to let sleeping dogs lie.

If you'd like to be part of the solution, I urge you to sign this anti-bullying pledge. I am being compensated to promote the Words Hurt campaign from TakePart.com. If I reach my signature goal, I will make a $50 donation to the National Suicide Prevention league.

April 21, 2013

An Overdue Apology for Bullying

This one is overdue by 40 years, but it comes from the heart.

I recently was invited to participate in a media campaign to promote awareness and prevention of bullying. After a cursory survey among my Facebook community, admittedly, the petition was met with some skepticism.

Comments included:
  • How would you "stop" bullying? I don't think it will ever go away, so I don't think it's realistic to say that it will be eliminated. 
  • No petitions will stop bullying. Nor will campaigns with posters and slogans. All the publicity and policing in the schools about anti-bullying has done and will do nothing.

But also this one:
  • We can't change what happens in every child's home. We can, however, take steps to curb public behavior. Just because the root of something isn't readily accessible or easily altered, that doesn't mean we have to accept the fruit that grows from it.

As I read the thoughts of my friends, my mind traveled back to my elementary school years. I have one regret and this is my attempt to rectify it. I bullied someone. I've never made peace with my actions and maybe a public confession will help. Maybe my side of it will illuminate the irrational thoughts that drive a bully to bully. I don't know. But here goes...

In second grade, a new girl moved to our town. We were a small but growing rural community because folks wanted to get away from the city life. We were within 40 minutes of a metro area so a lot of families were moving to our town. On the first day of school, a new girl, Patty, sat against the brick wall of the school building during recess. She sat on the ground, arms crossed angrily in front of her and whenever someone would come near her, she would throw rocks at them. That first impression stuck. She was mean. As an adult, I realize Patty was probably homesick and lost as the new kid, but as a seven year old and self-appointed class leader, she just was mean. And threw rocks.

For the next four years of elementary school, new kids would move in. Patty would always try to befriend the other new students, but my group of friends and I would intervene and tell the new kid that Patty was mean and nobody liked her. In elementary school hierarchies, anyone who wanted to fit in would also shun Patty. From second through sixth grade, I stood between Patty and her attempt to make friends. Even worse, I was not mean to her face. Patty rode my bus and we were assigned to sit together. I was friendly to her face the whole ride back and forth to school. But in school, I made sure everyone knew not to be friends with Patty. I have a lump in my throat as I write this and I want to go back in time and shake some sense into my little snotty self.

You see, bullying comes in all shapes and sizes and as an adult I know that. I will never be able to undo what I did and it will probably always haunt me.

I don't know what the solution is exactly, but today's sponsor has some ideas. I have partnered with TakePart.com to circulate a pledge. I am paid for every signature I send their way to pledge to stand up to bullying and its damaging effect on children, schools, and communities. I ask you to be a part of the solution by joining the movement to confront this problem head-on.

Even more than that, I need to say this. Patty, if by some twist of fate, you are out there and read this, I apologize to you from the bottom of my heart. I have never regretted anything in my life as much as what a horribly mean little girl I was to you. I cannot begin to tell you how much I admire that you never gave up trying to make friends. I don't know if you even knew why all your attempts were thwarted. You deserved to have friends and I'm also sorry that I didn't recognize that you were a lost little girl. The good news is that I've used that regret to teach my own children kindness and empathy. I really am sorry.

If I learned anything from that incident, I learned that when someone is throwing rocks, they need love and understanding, not shunning. Maybe they just need someone to listen. I honestly didn't realize at the time I was being a bully, but that is another piece of advice I have. If you treat someone unkindly, stop. If you have a chance, apologize and mean it. Make it right however you can. Bullying has emotional and physical tolls for the victim, and sometimes the depression becomes so severe, suicide seems to be the only solution.

Any bully will tell you "why" that person deserved it. The bully is wrong. Nobody deserves to be treated poorly by another human being. It's just not what thoughtful people do. Decent people nip it in the bud and stop the bullying behavior. I also am going to give myself a little slack. I don't know why one of the adults on the playground didn't notice Patty's anger and take her aside. I realize the world has changed a lot in 40 years and maybe the mindset was to let the kids work it out. I only know that today, if I were the adult, I would try to find out why Patty was throwing rocks and privately speak to one of the class leaders and ask them to help her feel more welcome. Adults have the responsibility to set the bar for children.

I am being compensated to run this campaign, so I also want to do more than talk about it. If I reach my signature goal, I will personally donate $50 to the National Suicide Prevention league. I ask my readers to please help me spread the word and encourage your friends to sign this petition.

I don't want to take away from my apology, but just know that karma got even with me... stay tuned for the story of how I was the target of a bully later in my teenage years.

April 10, 2013

Iron Man 3: coming May 3, 2013

We are very excited to promote Disney's upcoming film for a few reasons. The Iron Man series is one of my daughter's favorite franchises. In fact, she even discussed going to the movie for her after prom if she can get her beau to agree. To say she's excited is an understatement. This is part of why I love being a Disney blogger, I get all sorts of advance info on all the best releases.

Kevin O'Connor in Iron Man 3
Screen shot from Iron Man 3 featuring my HS friend
The other reason I'm excited is that one of the film's featured extras is a high school friend of mine (who maybe will agree to be interviewed about the experience if we goad him enough?). He actually has two roles in the film, this is him as "On Air Reporter".

It made my six degrees of Robert Downey Jr. reduce to two. I've been a fan of his since the 80s film, Less than Zero. Robert Downey Jr. was always one of my favorite actors from that era and it thrills me that he's one of my daughter's favorites today.

Without further ado, we present some press release information as well as a trailer from Iron Man 3.

IRON MAN 3 (in Digital 3D and RealD)

Genre: Action-adventure
Rating: PG-13
U.S. Release date: May 3, 2013
Running time: 129 min.

Based on the ever-popular Marvel comic book series, first published in 1963, “Iron Man 3” returns Robert Downey Jr. (“Iron Man,” “Marvel’s The Avengers”) as the iconic Super Hero character Tony Stark/Iron Man along with Gwyneth Paltrow (“Iron Man,” “Iron Man 2,”) as Pepper Potts, Don Cheadle (“Iron Man 2”) as James “Rhodey” Rhodes and Jon Favreau (“Iron Man,” “Iron Man 2”) as Happy Hogan. Set for release in the U.S. on May 3, 2013, Marvel’s “Iron Man 3” marks the second feature to be fully owned, marketed and distributed by Disney, which acquired Marvel in 2009.

Marvel’s “Iron Man 3” pits brash-but-brilliant industrialist Tony Stark/Iron Man against an enemy whose
reach knows no bounds. When Stark finds his personal world destroyed at his enemy's hands, he
embarks on a harrowing quest to find those responsible. This journey, at every turn, will test his mettle.
With his back against the wall, Stark is left to survive by his own devices, relying on his ingenuity and
instincts to protect those closest to him. As he fights his way back, Stark discovers the answer to the
question that has secretly haunted him: does the man make the suit or does the suit make the man?

In Marvel’s “Iron Man 3,” Tony Stark/Iron Man finds his world reduced to rubble by a malevolent enemy
and must use his ingenuity and instincts to protect those closest to him as he seeks to destroy the enemy
and his cohorts.

April 2, 2013

Finding Dory: Sequel to Finding Nemo to be released Nov. 2015

Finding Dory

Disney•Pixar’s “Finding Dory” to Dive into Theaters
November 25, 2015

Ellen DeGeneres, the Voice of the Beloved Blue Tang Fish in 2003’s “Finding Nemo,” Shares Plans for the All-New Big-Screen Adventure

BURBANK, Calif. (April 2, 2013) – When Dory said “just keep swimming” in 2003’s Oscar®-winning film “Finding Nemo,” she could not have imagined what was in store for her (not that she could remember). Ellen DeGeneres, voice of the friendly-but-forgetful blue tang fish, revealed details today about Disney•Pixar’s “Finding Dory”—an all-new big-screen adventure diving into theaters on Nov. 25, 2015.

“I have waited for this day for a long, long, long, long, long, long time,” said DeGeneres. “I’m not mad it took this long. I know the people at Pixar were busy creating ‘Toy Story 16.’ But the time they took was worth it. The script is fantastic. And it has everything I loved about the first one: It’s got a lot of heart, it’s really funny, and the best part is—it’s got a lot more Dory.”

Director and Pixar veteran Andrew Stanton takes audiences back to the extraordinary underwater world created in the original film. “There is no Dory without Ellen,” said Stanton. “She won the hearts of moviegoers all over the world—not to mention our team here at Pixar. One thing we couldn’t stop thinking about was why she was all alone in the ocean on the day she met Marlin. In ‘Finding Dory,’ she will be reunited with her loved ones, learning a few things about the meaning of family along the way.”

Ellen DeGeneres as DoryAccording to Stanton, “Finding Dory” takes place about a year after the first film, and features returning favorites Marlin, Nemo and the Tank Gang, among others. Set in part along the California coastline, the story also welcomes a host of new characters, including a few who will prove to be a very important part of Dory’s life. 

“Finding Nemo” won the 2003 Academy Award® for Best Animated Feature; the film was nominated for three additional Oscars® (Best Writing, Original Screenplay; Best Music, Original Score; Best Sound Editing). It was also nominated for a Golden Globe® Award for Best Motion Picture–Comedy or Musical. In 2008, the American Film Institute named “Finding Nemo” among the top 10 greatest animated films ever made. At the time of its release, “Finding Nemo” was the highest grossing G-rated movie of all time. It’s currently the fourth highest grossing animated film worldwide. The film has more than 16 million Likes on Facebook, and Dory—with more than 24 million—is the most Liked individual character from a Disney or Disney•Pixar film.

DeGeneres’ distinctive comic voice has resonated with audiences from her first stand-up comedy appearances through her work today on television, in film and in the literary world. Her syndicated talk show, “The Ellen DeGeneres Show,” is in its 10th season and has earned 38 Daytime Emmy® Awards. DeGeneres has won 12 People’s Choice Awards and the Teen Choice Award for Choice Comedian for three consecutive years. Additionally, her show won two Genesis Awards and a GLAAD Media Award for Outstanding Talk Show Episode. For her unforgettable turn as Dory, DeGeneres was nominated for an MTV Movie Award for Best Comedic Performance.


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