Category: Arts and Entertainment

Sundance unveils new additions to the 2015 film fest lineup!

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(Pic courtesy of Sundance Film Festival)

Surprise! Sundance announces a few additions to the film fests 2015 line-up, and it’s pretty awesome! Among the unveiling, The Salt Lake City gala world premiere of A Walk In The Woods, starring Robert Redford, Nick Nolte and Emma Thompson. If that wasn’t enough to spark your interest how about a little James Franko? Franko stars with Felicity Jones and Jonah Hill in True Story. Full list of additions are below, festival dates are from January 22 to February 1.

PREMIERES
A Walk in the Woods / U.S.A. (Director: Ken Kwapis, Screenwriters: Rick Kerb, Bill Holderman) — An aging travel writer sets out to hike the 2,100-mile Appalachian Trail with a long-estranged high school buddy. Along the way, the duo face off with each other, nature, and an eccentric assortment of characters. Together, they learn that some roads are better left untraveled. Cast: Robert Redford, Nick Nolte, Emma Thompson, Mary Steenburgen, Nick Offerman, Kristen Schaal. World Premiere. SALT LAKE CITY GALA FILM

True Story / U.S.A. (Director: Rupert Goold, Screenwriters: Rupert Goold, David Kajganich) — When disgraced New York Times reporter Michael Finkel meets accused killer Christian Longo — who has taken on Finkel’s identity — his investigation morphs into an unforgettable game of cat and mouse. Based on actual events, Finkel’s relentless pursuit of Longo’s true story encompasses murder, love, deceit, and redemption. Cast: Jonah Hill, James Franco, Felicity Jones.

SUNDANCE KIDS
This section of the Festival is especially for our youngest independent film fans. Programmed in cooperation with Tumbleweeds, Utah’s premiere film festival for children and youth.

The Games Maker / Argentina, Canada, Italy (Director and screenwriter: Juan Pablo Buscarini) — Ivan Drago’s love of board games catapults him into the fantastical world of game invention and pits him against the inventor Morodian, who wants to destroy the city of Zyl. To save his family, Ivan must come to know what it is to be a true Games Maker. Cast: David Mazouz, Joseph Fiennes, Ed Asner, Megan Charpentier, Tom Cavanagh, Valentina Lodovini. U.S. Premiere

Operation Arctic / Norway (Director and screenwriter: Grethe Bøe-Waal) — This modern-day Robinson Crusoe adventure is set in the Arctic. Through a misunderstanding, 13-year-old Julia and her eight-year-old twin siblings, Ida and Sindre, are left on a deserted island. The children have to find ways to survive, battling fierce winter weather, hungry polar bears, and loneliness. Cast: Kaisa Gurine Antonsen, Ida Leonora Valestrand Eike, Leonard Valestrand Eike, Nicolai Cleve Broch, Kristofer Hivju, Line Verndal. International Premiere

Shaun the Sheep / United Kingdom (Directors and screenwriters: Richard Starzak, Mark Burton) — When Shaun’s mischief inadvertently leads to the Farmer being taken away from the farm, Shaun, Bitzer and the flock have to go into the big city to rescue him, setting the stage for an epic adventure. International Premiere

SPECIAL EVENTS
Pioneers Palace B’92 / Romania (Director and screenwriter: Bobby Paunescu) — In the wild days of post-Ceausescu Bucharest, teenagers open a disco at their high school, terrified of an AIDS scare after their visit to a local brothel. Part of the Festival’s new Art of Film program, Pioneers Palace B’92 was produced by film students and supported by Mandragora Film Academy together with Solar Indie Junction. Cast: Toto Dumitrescu, Mihai Dorobantu, Maria Bata, Dragos Savulescu, Alice Halpert, Alice Peneaca. World Premiere

NEW FRONTIERThe following installations will be featured in The VR works of Felix & Paul, a showcase of groundbreaking live-action virtual reality experiences by artists Félix Lajeunesse and Paul Raphaël in the Festival’s New Frontier exhibition.

HerdersArtists: Félix Lajeunesse, Paul Raphaël
Mongolian pastoral herders are one of the world’s last remaining nomadic cultures. For millennia they have lived on the steppes, grazing their livestock on the grasslands. Through a series of virtual reality experiences, the viewer is invited into the reality of a nomadic family of yak herders.

Strangers with Patrick Watson
Artists: Félix Lajeunesse, Paul Raphaël, Chris Lavis, Maciek Szczerbowski
Strangers with Patrick Watson invites the viewer to spend an intimate moment with celebrated Montreal musician Patrick Watson at work in his studio loft on a winter’s day. Cast: Patrick Watson.

WILD – The Experience
Artists: Félix Lajeunesse, Paul Raphaël
Fox Searchlight and the Fox Innovation Lab present this virtual reality experience drawing from the film Wild. Viewers enter a fully immersive media environment to join an intimate moment on the Pacific Crest Trail between a woman, Cheryl Strayed (Reese Witherspoon), and her mother, Bobbi (Laura Dern), a vision from the afterlife.

FROM THE COLLECTIONA selection from The Sundance Collection at UCLA, a film preservation program established in 1997. The Collection is specifically devoted to the preservation of independent documentaries, narratives and short films supported by Sundance Institute and has grown to nearly 2,300 holdings representing 1,800 titles, including recent additions such as El Mariachi, Winter’s Bone, Johnny Suede, Working Girls, Crumb, Groove, Better This World, The Oath and Paris, Texas. Titles are generously donated by individual filmmakers, distributors and studios.

Paris is Burning / U.S.A. (Director: Jennie Livingston) — Paris is Burning visits black and Latino drag balls of the 1980s in New York City, where at raucous celebrations, rival Houses create intense competition and provide deep sustenance. This world within a world is instantly familiar, filled with intense yearnings for “Realness” that reflect America itself. Cast: Dorian Corey, Freddie Pendavis, Pepper Labeija, Junior Labeija, Venus Xtravaganza, Willi Ninja.

The screening will feature a DCP of the new digital restoration of Paris is Burning created from original 16mm elements. This recent effort restores the feature to the original uncropped aspect ratio. The project represents the collaborative efforts of the Sundance Institute, the Outfest UCLA Legacy Project, and UCLA Film & Television Archive, with permission of Miramax.

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A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night: Winter Light

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A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night: Winter Light

A stylish alternative for the festive season

Sunetra Senior

Amidst the cloud-swept moons of crisper evenings comes Ana Lily Amirpour’s A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night. However, far from being the creepy slasher flick that the title evokes, the film emerges as a stunning work of art. This Wild-West inspired storyline about an Iranian vampire was produced by Elijah Wood and demonstrates an incredible power for innovation. Though the backdrop is the dark and criminal world of the fictional ‘Bad City’, Amirpour’s artistic vision manages to nurse a vitality that rises, overflows and saturates the whole narrative; profound thinking lifts what could otherwise be gloomy or clichéd territory into a luminous dream-land. Not so much the warmth from a mug of hot chocolate as the buzz after a couple o’ shots of vodka!

A huge part of this is Amirpour’s unique cinematic technique. Strong metaphors are interspersed with a literal storyline in a way that stimulates the mind into filling in the gaps; the electricity of the glowing street lamps epitomising this concept. There is the loose narrative of a vampire skulking around an ‘Iranian ghost-town’ and a potential love-story brews under the surface, but a fuller understanding comes through the taking in of striking imagery. The movement of the vampire protagonist (Sheila Vand) gliding across the wall, cloak flowing with her back to the camera, for example, relays a more in-depth profile of her character. Through this limber and self-effacing action we sense that this girl is not quite the savage miscreant that the townsfolk sees her as but has a vulnerable and philosophical dimension; as we discover, she is born into the role of a supernatural vigilante, compelled by instinct to purge the town of its evils.

Far from being hard work then the exploration of moody subject matter is an exhilarating experience. Slick and mesmerising, the aesthetic beauty works alongside the conceptual intensity so that you are not just intellectualising, but intuiting through the whole story- much like the vampire anti-heroine herself. There is titillation: pressure, melancholia, excitement; so much so that the climax is very close to being literal. The entire mind is taken over through extremes of the audio-visual senses; a pair of cat’s eyes stares predatorily but silently down the barrel of the lens amplifying the fact that the female and male protagonists are doing the same to each other while a suspiciously jaunty track plays loudly in the background. This happens at the point after the boy Arash (played by Arash Marandi) finds out that his deadly love interest is responsible for killing his father; the tension of the moment-as I see it- being whether he will attack her.

This takes us to the other half of the underlying energy in A Girl Walks Home: in addition to the experimental style, the content of the film is also very progressive, both the context and the plot. The story of a lonely vampire, who is burdened by vicious impulses, is bedded in the wider interrelating issues of cultural, social and gender equality.  The film is spoken in the Iranian tongue of Farsi with subtitles provided in English, prompting the audience to inhabit a truly cosmopolitan space. Ana Lily Amirpour has been asked “why an Iranian vampire?” to which she replies with the suave subtext ‘well why the hell not?’: “There can be Iranian vampires.” The anti-venom for sensationalised vampire melodramas such as TwilightA Girl Walks Home Alone at Night then creates a bridge between mainstream and minority groups in the western audience and provides a refreshing transcendence.

This ties in too with the central theme of feminism. The fact that our mystical superwoman remains anonymously ‘The Girl’, immediately encourages a general discussion about the empowerment (or not) of women but the image of her wearing a stripy T-shirt and skinny jeans under a burqa-esque cloak also brings a cross-cultural dialogue to the table: as pointed out by British Muslim comedian Shazia Mirza people forget that, in the correct democratic setting, there are “women who feel equally empowered in a Burqa as those who do in mini-skirts”.  The vampire’s agility and aggression-as an Iranian and literal woman of the night- can so be seen to give a bold political respect where it is not present in our society. This sexual liberation ultimately extends to all women. For example with the corruptive baggage of prostitution: “You don’t like what you do” the vampire tells a well-known sex-worker when the latter is boasting about her transactional spoils in an attempt to gloss over the emptiness she is feeling inside. As a supernatural entity ‘The Girl’ can be sexually free and immune from the unequal gender power dynamic that comes inextricably alongside. Indeed the reason she must kill Arash’s father is because he takes advantage of the sex-worker’s defenceless position and chooses to abuse her.

What is also interesting in the film is that very little is actually specific to Iranian culture. The language and evocative religious garment are prominent, yes, but they are broader symbols, placed more for raising awareness. In fact what the landscape more accurately resembles is the final frontier of Los Angeles in 1950s America. As mentioned before, the genre of the Spaghetti Western is a major influence on the movie. However, in the paradoxical spirit of the feature, this is also where Amirpour’s originality and the extent of her philanthropy shine through. The Western famously promotes the convention of rugged masculinity, captured in the icon of Clint Eastwood’s cowboy or the disillusioned detective Marlowe who navigates through the convoluted network of LA’s underworld. These heroes long for the old-world ideals of character building and earnest hard-work. Both such traits are present in A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night with its stand-offs on suburban pavements and exhaustive web of crime- but there is one major difference: the idea of community.

It sounds strange but this is at the spiritual heart of the film, the tagline being ‘Can love exist in Bad City?’ The cowboy and the private detective are in it for themselves, unwittingly internalising the feudal order of their European ancestors but Amirpour’s vigilante selflessly gives herself to the protection of those who have fallen into the cracks of a developing industry and are struggling to stay strong in spite of it. This ends up including the boy Arash whose car is stolen by a drug-dealing pimp. The giant metal cranes and charging trains that litter the landscape reflect the faceless systemisation of an elite moneyed group who have forgotten all about the citizens of the district. So, ultimately, the film asks wide social and humanitarian questions which we will feel invigorated about discussing. The message is purposefully evasive; the abstract metaphors and spectrum of human emotions perfectly complementing the director’s desire to stir and encourage an open process of enlightenment.

Here Amirpour casts a final piece of white magic: the uplifting relationship between the vampire and Arash. If the generically dubbed ‘Bad City’ is a universal cauldron for the lowliest of behaviour, the chemistry between our two virtuous fighters surely symbolises the hope in mankind. But can Arash forgive his girlfriend for murdering his father? Can ‘The Girl’ resist her knee-jerk reaction to male danger? Only the purchasing of a certain ticket can tell.  A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night was released on the 21st November 2014 and is showing at cinemas across the USA. Theatrical release dates for the UK and other countries are TBA.

 

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Napa Valley Film Festival

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(Photo: Chelsea Lauren, Getty Images for Variety)

Napa Valley, CA- The 4th annual Napa valley Film Festival recently held a star studded line up of celebrity tributes. Highlights include, the one and only Kevin Costner, promoting his upcoming flick Black or White, directed by Mike Binder. Costner plays a widower fighting a custody battle for his granddaughter, who happens to be black. “Stories about race and inequality make people nervous, it scares them. But they need to be told. I mean, what kind of world do we live in,” Costner said.
Access Hollywood’s Billy Bush hosted this years tribute ceremony. Michelle Monaghan along with Rising Star Jeremy Jordan where honored. The festival hosted Variety’s “10 Producers to Watch” and Actress Shailene Woodley not only celebrated her birthday but received the Indie Impact Award, sponsored by Mercedes-Benz.

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The Holiday Classic Movie Series!

Classic movies

Bring the family this holiday season to see two of our faviorite holiday comedies, Home Alone and National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation. Mark your calenders for this Friday, December 12, show time starts at 7pm. Tickets available at Ruth Eckerd Hall ticket office from 10am-6pm.
Moviegoers may also purchase tickets at the Capitol Theatre box office, which will open at 6 pm on the night of the show and will remain open through the beginning of the second feature for those who wish to purchase tickets for the second film only. Concession and full bar available for purchase, admission is only $7!

The Capitol Theater
405 Cleveland St.
Clearwater, FL 33755
(727) 791-7400

Ruth Eckerd Hall
1111 N McMullen Booth Rd
Clearwater, FL 33759
(727) 791-7400

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The Planetary Jam – Why we need to turn it up

Josh Urban - why we need to turn it up
Life is beautiful, but sometimes, the world seems dark. Broken. Shattered, and hopelessly beyond repair. But I’m an artistic type, so the realm of impossibility is my zip code. Perhaps we’re neighbors. I hope we are.

I’ve come to notice how music builds bridges even over the deepest canyons of differences. Far from “sticking it to the man”, my time playing guitar has often put me in the same band as The Man himself. Forced to work together, as the show must go on, I started to see beyond the opinions that divide, into the humanity that unites. The thought occurred to me: What if the World was a band?

I decided to start a “worldwide jam session”, and hopped on a train to create a music video with the planet. After a little time in the workshop, a household broom became a one-string electric guitar. I traveled the east coast by rail (and worldwide by social media), inviting people to jam on real brooms as fake guitars, and the electric broom as a real guitar. The idea: get everyone involved in a common project of fun and laughter, and demonstrate our commonality through the universal language of music.

The Planetary Jam Why we need to turn it up

And boy, the world rocked. The collaborative music video that everyone made not only gives me hope, but makes me proud to be part of the “humanity band.” The dual adhesives of music and curiosity formed spontaneous bonds with a rainbow of people. Much laughter was shared as I conduced a street music project, filming along the way. There were jams under the streets of New York City, with strangers breaking ice on subway trains. “Excuse me, what is that?” they’d ask, pointing to the broom. “Ah, it’s an electric broom guitar!” I’d reply as I played it for them, feeling like a surfer as the train bucked and swayed while I balanced and made a racket. New and old friends gathered in parks, I saw a mini-Woodstock evolve in a city square, shared laughter in bleak places, witnessed shy smiles flashing across guarded faces, and listened to night train conversations. The formerly homeless man tipped me generously, and asked earnestly if I had a place to stay, checking on his fellow man. The tourist kids waved their arms to the music, old ladies sang, cabbies beamed, and a blind woman hesitantly tried the broom guitar..and rocked it! Hipsters were intrigued, skaters did tricks as they played music, crowds watched, beautiful girls danced, tiny children smiled as they jammed on the strange guitar, and members of an Italian bluegrass band even joined in the street party. The simple corn broom that I bought in suburbia must have a soul by now, being a catalyst, a bridge, steeped in the laughter of multitudes, and infused with the dust of crumbling walls.

The Planetary Jam Why we need to turn it up
Back home, I assembled the footage, and the biggest challenge of the project was figuring out how to fit the joy into one video. The result can be seen at www.JoshUrban.com/JURT
But still…

Being out in the world…it’s hard not to notice certain things about it, even among great joy. Every time I start to board a hopeful train of thought with an idea to bring some light to the world, a little voice in my head pipes up “yeah, but that will never work”, which is almost immediately seconded by some gruesome bit of news on TV. As I wade further and further into the sea of humanity, I’m inevitably confronted by the darkness, no matter how sunny my disposition. Yet, standing on the street corner in the swirl of schizophrenic homeless people, rich Manhattan girls, smiling toddlers, and the endless hurrying people while wars rage and kindness is given…The deceptively simple idea surfaces:

Lighthouses aren’t needed during the day. Sure, sure, they’re nice to look at, but stormy seas and dark nights are exactly what they’re designed for. If our actions are our light and song, positivity our work, and All the World’s a stage, then…showtime is now, as it’s needed the most. I would venture a guess that most readers of this article strive to make a difference in some way. I’d like to encourage you to keep up the good work. The world is starving for it. People loved jamming together on the tour. People loved the silliness of an electric broom guitar. In these troubled times, we need to rock harder than we ever have before, in whatever way that we do. Shine brighter, care harder, and make a new friend from the unlikeliest of places. Yes, the night seems endless at times, and a great hush has fallen over the land, but far from retreating, it’s the signal to double down, and turn it up. The world is chanting for an encore. What will you play?
The Planetary Jam Why we need to turn it up

Josh Urban is a musician, speaker, and writer living near Washington, DC, USA. See the interactive music video of the world jamming at www.JoshUrban.com/JURT and say hello @DontJoshMe

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Powerstories Theater announces calender of events!

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The fact that Powerstories Theater places emphasis on works by and for women and girls is exactly what sets them apart. Powerstories theater opened in 1998 by Fran Powers. Powers notified women in the Tampa Bay area of an audition opportunity by asking the simple question “Do you have a story to tell?” Soon after, eight local women, ranging in age from 30-70, with little to no acting experience were selected. Powerstories debuted Nov. 2000, by August 2001 they were performing to sold out crowds at the Tampa Bay Performing Arts Center. To learn more visit www.powerstories.com or call 813-253-2000 for ticket info.

Powerstories Theater
2105 W. Kennedy Blvd.
Tampa, FL 33606

Calendar Of Events

DECEMBER

Friday, December 5
Powerstories Open Mic
6pm-8pm

Saturday, December 6
Girlstories Theatre Holiday Celebration
Powerstories Studio Theater
11:30am-2pm

January 2015

Friday,January 2
Powerstories Open Mic
6pm-8pm

Thursday, January 8
Powerstories Studio Theater
Rehearsal 6:00 to 8:00 pm

Saturday, January 10
Powerstories Studio Theater
Rehearsal 1:30- 3:30

Thursday, January 15
Event at Stageworks Theater
Call 5:30
Pick Up 8:30

January 28th-February 15th
“PowerPlay Series” presents
ELVIS Monologues & Graceland
Elvis Monologues edited by Lavonne Mueller
& Graceland by Ellen Byron
8pm (2pm on Sundays)

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Sundance 2015

sundance festival event, we highly recommed this event

courtesy of sundance.org and all it’s affiliates

The secret is out! Sundance announces it’s 2015 line up. From Jan 22 – Feb 1, Park City, Utah will be home to the festivities. Sundance received 12,166 submissions from independent storytellers around the globe. Only 118 feature-length films were selected for competition, 103 of those feature films will be world premieres. Categories include : a U.S. dramatic, U.S. documentary , international dramatic and international documentary, as well as one shorts program.

Sundance Institute Founder & President, Robert Redford said, “The work of independent artists inevitably reflects the state of our culture and the times in which we live. Their stories are often irreverent, challenging, compelling and unexpected, and not only possess the power to move and hopefully inspire audiences, but also to speak to our shared humanity.”

Not only does Sundance connect independent artists to audiences, but the Institute’s signature Labs & public programs grant more than $ 2.5 million to artists through out the year. For list of films selected go to sundance.org/festival

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Let Me Introduce you to Spa Bleu

I would like to introduce you to Spa Bleu, at The Plantation Golf Resort and Spa in Crystal River, Florida. At this old Florida location, guests will not find beach venders, loud music and miles of surrounding traffic. Instead, they will find a stately white resort with rocking chairs on the front porch, and a charming spa willing to cater to their every whim. Mrs. Angela Oliverio, esthetician by trade, is the owner and architect of Spa Bleu. The Plantation was originally built in 1962; however, it was the resort’s former owner, Mr. W.W. “Will” Caruth, Jr. who ensured the resort maintained its southern hospitality and natural splendor. The current location of the spa was originally the private apartment of Mr. Caruth, Jr. Six years ago, Mrs. Oliverio renovated his private living quarters and created Spa Bleu. This provides the comfortable and home-like feeling of the spa. She is also owner of a nearby salon called Abitare’ Paris. Having these dual resources has allowed her to service parties of up to sixty-five in two days.

 

Situated in Florida’s Citrus County, Spa Bleu is close to Florida’s legendary mermaids at Weeki Wachee Springs. Given this location, it is quite evident that Angela and her team of spa therapists, are able to make dreams come true. This romantic spa has a couple’s massage room with a fire place, a Vichy shower, two spacious multi-purpose spa suites, dual manicure tables, three pedicure units, and two hair stations. The spa is situated off the highway, so when the bride and groom are receiving services, there are no noisy distractions. This silence creates a sense of tranquility for any member of the wedding party. The spa therapists will invite a guest for a foot soak in a warm bowl of rosemary and mint with golf balls on the bottom. When the guests feel the texture on their feet, the golf balls invite them to roll their troubles away. Because the feet are full of nerve endings, this rolling action helps relive pain and calm tensions. This soak is a prelude to Spa Bleu’s Bridal Party event ($99.00 per person), which includes, massages, manicures, and mimosas for the entire party.

Spa Bleu leases their space from The Plantation and operates independently; however, they do have a very close relationship with Jonathon Noyes, the hotel’s wedding coordinator. Together, they have created A Night of Romance ($125.00). This luxurious service includes a rose petal turndown service, an organic gift set of body products with chocolate treats, and a bottle of champagne. This marriage of spa and resort is perfect for creating the ambiance of “I do!”

 

Angela has also designed a special service for the groom. Spa Bleu’s Gentleman’s Package ($195.00 for 3 hours) includes a men’s grooming facial, a one hour massage and a forty-five minute reflexology treatment. However, if the bride- or groom-to-be wants to have their stresses completely released, they can surrender to a Royal Palm Experience ($325.00 for 6 hours). This day of wholeness consists of a one-hour massage, one hour facial, Vichy salt glow, spa pedicure, express manicure, shampoo/style and a spa cuisine with champagne. This escape allows the bride, or groom, to unwind while the wedding coordinator and spa concierge takes care of all the wedding details. All products are manufactured from plant and flower essences. Spa Blue does not incorporate any animal by products in their products.

 

When it comes to the actual preparation of the bride, Spa Bleu offers the Bridal Basics ($95.00) service. The talented artists will formally style the hair with veil placement and apply make up to the bride’s taste. They also provide in-room services upon request for the bride who wishes to stay in and close to her friends and family.

 

Although the Plantation is the perfect location for elaborate wedding, many of the guests choose to enjoy Crystal River’s natural habitat. Just recently, a couple decided to wed on kayaks in on Crystal River. A pod of manatees decided to join the wedding and they surrounded the bride and groom.

If the couple is considering a destination event, do not discount independently owned spas and resorts. Facilities such as Spa Blue and Granite Spa have the ability to individualize each bride’s wants and needs so each couple will be guaranteed a unique and memorable experience.

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How can you turn Halloween into a fun-filled time for your children

ARTICLE – POSITIVE IMPACT MAGAZINE


My kids always look forward to Halloween, even though they don’t eat the candy (at least in front of me). They look forward to dressing up in costumes, being out with their friends, and staying up late on a school night. I, on the other hand, do not look forward to Halloween. I don’t like the focus on promoting fear of ugly-looking creatures and giving toxic items to children. I don’t call the candy “treats” because that gives children the wrong message. Think about it, calling something a “treat” encourages your children to look forward to receiving the “treat”. Do you really want to encourage your children to look forward to eating something that could be as harmful as cigarettes?

With our growing obesity epidemic, the increase in diabetes and strokes in children, and the scientific link between junk food and depression, decreased intellect, criminal behavior, dementia, and cancer, it is time mothers took a stand against the traditional Halloween junk food-fest.

The sad fact is that even normally well-behaved children can start acting crazy after consuming all the highly-sugared, chemicalized junk they get. And the disrupting behavior can last for as long as a month afterward. Yet, I’m not a person who believes in letting eating choices turn my home into a war zone. I believe in providing an education in healthful eating—and setting a good example! I keep unhealthful foods out of the house, and trust my kids to use their best judgment. Thankfully, we have figured out how to make Halloween a happy time for all of us, without joining the candy craze. Here are some tips that have worked for us.

1. Hand out inexpensive toys instead of candy. By setting this good example, perhaps a neighbor will pick up on the idea. Even if nobody follows your lead, you will feel good about your decision. Toys are perhaps a little more expensive than candy, but not much, and they definitely send a great message to both the kids and the parents.

My children help choose what they think is cool. In recent years, we have been giving out glow-in-the-dark necklaces and bracelets. The best thing about these toys is that they make kids safer in the dark because cars can see them when they are walking in the road. Kids say, “Wow!” or “Cool!” when they see the glowing gifts, so I know they love them. Plus, my kids are proud to hand them out. Now that my kids are older, they always remind me when it’s time to place my order. Other toys that we have purchased include blow up balloon balls, glow-in-the-dark animals, and glow-in-the-dark balls.

2. Make your family’s favorite dinner on Halloween night, including their favorite desserts. There are great healthy fall menu ideas in the Member Center recipe guide. With full stomachs, your kids will be less tempted to eat the junk they receive. You also can try the Halloween recipe Quick and Creepy Chocolate Treats below and other recipes in the September 2006 Healthy Times Newsletter or have some delicious Dr. Fuhrman Date-Nut Bars and Pop’ems on hand.

3. When the children come home, if they are adamant about wanting to eat the candy, set a limit on how many candies they are allowed to eat. I suggest you allow them two pieces of candy, which they can pick out—and then discard the rest. In the past, we let our children pick one or two candies to eat, but in the more recent years they don’t even want any of it. They are too well informed now. Last Halloween, much to my surprise (I was brought up conventionally, so it’s amazing to watch Nutritarian children grow up) our children played with the candy. They opened the wrappers, and exclaimed how it didn’t look like food and then molded it.

4. Try to get your kids to choose not to eat the candy by making another option more tantalizing. For instance, give them money or a toy in exchange for their bag of candy.

5. Some people find it easiest to throw out all the candy after the children go to sleep. Little ones probably won’t even remember it once it’s gone, and getting rid of it eliminates temptation for the adults in the house. However, it is better to do this as a family and not secretively so the children understand the reason that it should be destroyed. It would be no different if the neighbors were being neighborly serving cigarettes or addictive drugs. Some socially accepted and popular customs are simply ignorant and dangerous. Dietary ignorance is the number one cause of death in America and everyone needs to know it.

6. Life is full of compromises—and this day will pass! I believe that with a little advance planning you can ensure that your children will have a fun time. Plus they will not be tempted to hide or sneak candy. I am certain you will be happier knowing that they will be eating a lot less candy this year than they did last year.

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The Kindness Exchange

ARTICLE – POSITIVE IMPACT MAGAZINE


The holidays are right around the corner, and I’m launching a music project to bring some light into what is, for many, a very dark time of year.  I hope you can join in, share some ideas, and participate.  Here’s the story…

 

The Message

 

It all changed with a cosmic message from…The Simpsons?
Sitting there at the table, I almost choked on my overcooked pasta.

I had been pondering doing a holiday music project, and the animated show with cutting humor and questionable values had been the final encouragement to go make a difference.

“Didn’t see that coming” I muttered to myself.

 

Lights in the Darkness

Some years ago, my good friend Barbara was dying of leukemia.   The eve of my 19th birthday found my brothers helping me to construct a small wooden frame of a star.  We painted it black, and wrapped Christmas lights around it.  Strapping it to the roof of mom’s tiny blue Toyota Tercel the next day, I opened birthday presents in the car as we drove out to her home.  As we set it up in her front yard, I saw her as she stood at her front door, too sick to visit anyone, a ghostly skeleton, tears running down her face in thanks – or maybe that was me crying.  The little star stood in the yard, shining out into the very real darkness that was an overcast noontime on that December day.  I’ll always treasure the visit I had with her during her brief remission several months later, and a few before she died. She told me how much the star had meant – those lights, shining.

Two years later, a few days after my grandfather had passed, I sat looking at the lights on the family Christmas tree, shining out with such hope in that bleak winter night.  And then just last year, I stared with a similar intensity at a small menorah the night of the Sandy Hook massacre.

 

Like small fragments of a lost sun, the lights kept on shining through the dark, promising a return to brighter times, and offering a life raft through the dark waters of the present.

 

 

The Kindness Exchange

I’m working on an idea, and I’d love to hear your input.  Let’s make it rock!

The idea is simple, and akin to a “pay it forward” action.  You do something nice for someone.  You post it online, and, if possible, tag it with the hashtag #KindnessExchange.  For example:  “@DontJoshMe: Just paid for a senior citizen’s coffee. #KindnessExchange”

The recipient could get a small card explaining what just happened, encouraging them to do the same thing.  The actions can be as simple as opening a door, or as grand as creating a homemade present for someone.  Money isn’t a factor, as it’s often tight for many people (including myself) this time of year.  It’s the action that counts!

 

I’ll be collecting the posts on social media, writing them down on small slips of paper, and putting them on a special holiday tree that will stay lit through the season – preferably in my front yard.  It will be like a beacon in the darkness, and a gathering place for the kindness of the world.  We often think that our kind actions don’t matter, but that couldn’t be farther from the truth.  And now, they’ll be all in one place, shining through the night.  As the reports of the actions arrive from all corners of the globe, they’ll all go on the tree, gathering, gathering…so many lights in the darkness.

 

The Music

So, what about the music?  I’ll be playing my guitar in hospitals, cancer centers, subways, nursing homes, schools, and any place that needs music during this project.  I’ll be telling folks about it, getting them on board, and bringing a bit of rock ‘n roll to brighten the days for everyone.  That will be one of the ways that I bring light with me.  I’ll also be encouraging other musicians to join me in concert for double the fun!

 

The Ideas
So, this is a work in progress.  Want to see the tour come to your city?  Let me know!  Have a great idea to make it more effective?  Drop me an email!  Have a sponsorship partner suggestion? I’ll call you!  Any ideas are most welcome and gratefully accepted, no matter how small.

The idea of using music as a force for good is very exciting to me, and I hope you can join in on this project.  And by the way – if, like me, holidays have been hard for you on occasion, I encourage you all the more to join in.  I think it’s like what Clarence taught us from It’s a Wonderful Life – sometimes the best ways to save ourselves is to save others.

 

Contact

Please, let’s talk!  The best way to reach me is josh@joshurban.com, or Tweet @dontjoshme

I’m looking forward to hearing from you!

 

In Closing

So, what was that cosmic message from The Simpsons?  Well, Moe tried to hang himself.  His buddies saved him.  He cleaned up his life a bit, eventually went back to his old ways, but smiled at the noose, saying “Not today, old friend.  The holidays are just around the corner.”

Let’s change that narrative.  Let’s get those lights shining. Let’s save some lives.  I’ll see you out there on the road.

Let’s rock!

– Josh

 

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