Monday, February 28, 2011

Words we are likely to remember

AP Photo/Chris Carlson
Colin Firth accepts the Oscar for best performance by an actor
in a leading role for "The King's Speech" at the 83rd Academy Awards.

“The King’s Speech” was crowned best picture at last night’s Academy Awards but it also tops the list of most memorable Oscar quotes beginning with Colin Firth’s acceptance speech.

"I have a feeling my career's just peaked," said Firth, who earned the best-actor prize for his portrayal of the stammering British ruler George VI. "I'm afraid I have to warn you that I'm experience stirrings somewhere in the upper abdominals which are threatening to form themselves into dance moves."

Have you ever heard anyone say I think I’m going to be sick with such eloquence and grace?

And how about David Seidler, who at the age of 73, was awarded his first Oscar for best original screenplay?

"My father always said to me I'd be a late bloomer. I believe I'm the oldest person to win this award. I hope that record is broken quickly and often." Does that not encourage every other screenwriter, hoping to win such an honor?

All eyes were on Hollywood veteran David Fincher when Kathryn Bigelow, the first woman to earn a directing Oscar took the stage, thinking he was a shoe-in for his Facebook drama “The Social Network.” But instead, it was Tom Hooper, the relative big-screen newcomer, who is mostly known for classy TV dramas, who took home the industry’s top filmmaking prize.

AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill
Geoffrey Rush congratulates Tom Hooper as he accepts the Oscar
for best achievement in directing
"I want to thank my wonderful actors, the triangle of man love - Colin Firth, Geoffrey Rush and me,” said Hooper. “And Helena, I hope that doesn't make you too jealous."

That’s the top of the list of quotes from Sunday night's 83rd annual Academy Awards at the Kodak Theatre in Los Angeles. Below are a few more spoken words that are likely to be recalled this morning:

"I like going to bed after it's over. It's so stressful."
  - Elton John, at his 19th annual AIDS Foundation dinner.

"I thought they were fantastic. They were so relaxed."
- Hugh Jackman , about award hosts James Franco and Anne Hathaway.

AP Photo/Matt Sayles
Christian Bale, left, best supporting actor, Natalie Portman, best actress, second from left, Melissa Leo, second from right, best supporting actress, and Colin Firth, best actor, pose backstage with their Oscars.
"The baby was definitely kicking a lot during the song portion of the show, a little dancer."
- Natalie Portman, best actress winner, in the backstage pressroom.

"In a room of talented, inspirational people, what the hell am I doing here next to you?"
  - Christian Bale, winner of the Oscar for best supporting actor.

"Forgive me, I must start by pointing out that three years after our horrific financial crisis caused by financial fraud, not a single financial executive has gone to jail, and that's wrong."
  - Charles Ferguson, winner of best documentary feature for "Inside Job."

"It's made me a better person. I'm more patient, more accommodating."
  - Sandra Bullock, when asked on the Oscar red carpet, about her role as a mother.

"I should've got a haircut."
- a somewhat shaggy-looking Luke Matheny , winner of the Oscar for live action short film for "God of Love."

"I never expected this after 48 years of acting ... I can't believe it."
- Jacki Weaver, nominee for best supporting actress for "Animal Kingdom," on the red carpet.

Despite all of the excitement and champagne Network censors only bleeped once: Melissa Leo dropped the F-word during her speech for best supporting actress for her role as a boxing clan's domineering matriarch. Backstage, she jokingly conceded it was, "probably a very inappropriate place to use that particular word."
Later that evening, on the red carpet at the Governors Ball, Oscar co-host Anne Hathaway said, "My favorite adult moment was when Melissa leo let the F-bomb rip. I went up to her and said 'you just set the tone for the show and gave us material forever'." 

The list of winners from the 83rd Annual Academy Awards:
1. Best Picture: "The King's Speech."
2. Actor: Colin Firth, "The King's Speech."
3. Actress: Natalie Portman, "Black Swan."
4. Supporting Actor: Christian Bale, "The Fighter."
5. Supporting Actress: Melissa Leo, "The Fighter."
6. Directing: Tom Hooper, "The King's Speech."
7. Foreign Language Film: "In a Better World," Denmark.
8. Adapted Screenplay: Aaron Sorkin, "The Social Network."
9. Original Screenplay: David Seidler, "The King's Speech."
10. Animated Feature Film: "Toy Story 3."
11. Art Direction: "Alice in Wonderland."
12. Cinematography: "Inception."
13. Sound Mixing: "Inception."
14. Sound Editing: "Inception."
15. Original Score: "The Social Network," Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross.
16. Original Song: "We Belong Together" from "Toy Story 3," Randy Newman.
17. Costume Design: "Alice in Wonderland."
18. Documentary Feature: "Inside Job."
19. Documentary (short subject): "Strangers No More."
20. Film Editing: "The Social Network."
21. Makeup: "The Wolfman."
22. Animated Short Film: "The Lost Thing."
23. Live Action Short Film: "God of Love."
24. Visual Effects: "Inception."

AP contributed to this report

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Let the 83rd Annual Academy Awards begin!

Like millions of other viewers I will be watching it from home. But if I were to cover the Academy Awards, I would definitely want to check out the Governors Ball.

Matt Petit/@A.M.P.A.S.
A view of the beautiful table setting that awaits the guests attending the official Governors Ball.
"The Governors Ball is the perfect finale to the Oscar season," said Jeffrey Kurland, an Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences governor and Oscar-nominated costume designer ("Bullets over Broadway," 1994). "Our guests will be able to relax with one another as they toast and celebrate the achievements of the past year in film."

The menu for this year's soiree was created by Wolfgang Puck with Chef Partner Matt Bencivenga & executive pastry chef Sherry Yard. Just to give you an idea of how busy they have been: the kitchen staff will roll out 5,000 Oscar-shaped pieces of flat bread, 200 pounds of sticky rice, 1,600 whole Dover sole, 100 pounds of black farm-raised mussels, 1,000 spiny lobsters, 15 pounds of edible gold dust, 4,000 miniature chocolate Oscars and for toasting -- 1,200 bottles of Moet & Chandon champagne.

The Ball's 1,500 guests, who include Academy Award winners and nominees will be escorted into the Grand Ballroom on the top level of the Hollywood & Highland Center for a celebration geared around the early days of Hollywood. The room will sparkle with 250 strands of Swarovski crystal featuring some 10,000 individual crystals of eight different shapes and sizes, a ceiling covered with 28,000 square feet of shimmering fabric, gold taffeta and theatrical lighting fixtures.

Guests will be entertained by three musical acts performing on two stages. Of course this is just one of several celebrations immediately following the 83rd Academy Awards presentation. There's also the 19th Annual Academy Awards Viewing Party to benefit the Elton John Aids Foundation at the Pacific Design Center (hosted by Sir Elton John and David Furnish) as well as a party presented by Demi Moore and Madonna. Prince is expected to entertain guests here.
Matt Petit/@A.M.P.A.S.

But alas, I am covering the Oscars from a red comfy chair rather than the red carpet. And so, without further ado, here are my armchair predictions:
Best Picture: "The King's Speech"
Best Director: David Fincher, "The Social Network"
Best Actor: Colin Firth, "The King's Speech"
Best Actress: Natalie Portman, "Black Swan"
Supporting Actor: Geoffrey Rush, "The King's Speech"
Supporting Actress: Hailee Steinfeld, "True Grit"
Animated Feature: "Toy Story 3"

Friday, February 25, 2011

DAYTRIPPING: Movie marathons and other great things to do

Audience members enjoy the show at last year's Hollywood Nights event.

The Children's Leukemia Foundation of Michigan will present, "Hollywood Nights 1/2 Movie Marathon," at the New Emagine Theatre in Rochester Hills, Feb. 26. It's a worthy cause and a great way to forget about the winter.
Participants are encouraged to arrive by 11 a.m. to check in -- and being it is Oscar weekend -- have their photos taken on the red carpet. The marathon starts at noon, ends at midnight. Participants must raise a minimum of $75 by that day. Participation includes all the movies you can watch in 12 hours, red carpet photos, dinner, unlimited popcorn and soft drinks and goodie bag filled with cool gifts, prizes and awards. The theater is located at 200 Barclay Circle.
For guidelines and registration, visit http://events.leukemiamichigan.org/moviehalfmarathon, or call (800) 825-2536.

The Daddy-Daughter Dance
Chesterfield Township Parks & Recreation holds Daddy-Daughter Dance, 3-7 p.m. Feb. 27, Zuccaro's Banquet Hall, Gratiot and 21 Mile Road. Tickets $38 couple, $16.50 each additional daughter; non-residents pay $5 additional per couple. Advance tickets only, 8 a.m.-4:30 p.m. at Parks & Recreation office inside Chesterfield Township Offices, 47275 Sugarbush;  (586) 949-0400 ext. 4.

Oscar Night 
Ballet Americana -- featuring a live ABC broadcast of the 83rd Academy Awards, Feb. 27. It’s a tradition for Detroit-area film buffs who attend for the show, wonderful food, wine, raffles and costume contest. Doors open: 7 p.m. Cost: $25 in advance; $30 at the door. Tickets can be charged by phone at (734) 282-4727, or online at scponstage.com.   

Young Artists
Cranbrook Academy of Arts presents "One X One," works by students, alumni and faculty, preview party 6-10 p.m. Feb. 25, $50; general admission $2 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Feb. 26, at Dalgleish Cadillac Building, 6160 Cass at Woodward and Amsterdam, Detroit.

Theater Auditions
St. Clair Theatre Guild auditions for "Sound of Music," 6-7:15 p.m. Feb. 22-23 at SCTG Building, 1456 Goffe St., St. Clair. Show dates May 5-7 at East China Performing Arts Center. Details at: www.sctg.org or (810) 329-4498 or (810) 329-2630.

Big bands
"The Battle of the Bands VII" swing band competition, doors open 7 p.m., dance lesson 7-8 p.m., Battle begins 8:15 p.m. March 6, in Masonic Temple Crystal Ballroom in Detroit. Competition between local bands Paul King & the Rhythm Society Orchestra and the Millionaires. Tickets $22 in advance or at the door. Visit www.djanddance.com. 

Wolcott Mill
"Maple Sweetness" programs on maple syrup include how to recognize a maple, how to put a tap on the tree, how to turn sap into syrup, as well as make maple crafts and sample different syrups, 1 and 3 p.m. Feb. 26-27 at Wolcott Mill Metropark in Ray Township. Pre-registration: $5 per person.

Dance lessons
Line dance classes offered by Royal Oak Parks & Recreation Department, 7-8 p.m. Mondays through March 14 and April 11-June 6, at Addams Elementary School, 222 W. Webster between Woodward and Crooks. Cost: $40 per resident for each series, $45 non-resident. Call (586) 777-7242.

Crop Out Cancer
Relay for Life/St. Clair Shores Team Morse Family and Friends host Crop Out Cancer! scrapbooking event, 5-11 p.m. March 18, $20 or $25 full table, and 9 a.m.-9 p.m. March 19, $40 or $45 full table, $60 both days full table, at Macomb Community College Expo Center in Warren. Admission to vendor shopping $5. Proceeds to American Cancer Society. Call (586) 596-7360 or (586) 805-0444. 

Comedy Festival
Fourth Annual Garden Fresh Laugh Detroit Comedy Festival, March 27-28, 31 and April 2 at Mark Ridley's Comedy Castle in Royal Oak, lineup includes David Alan Grier, Auggie Smith, Brian McKim/Traci Skene, Karen Rontowski, Lynne Koplitz, and Bob Saget (April 2). For tickets, www.ComedyCastle.com or (248) 542-9900. 

Craft show
Fraser Band Boosters Spring Craft Show, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. March 12 at Fraser High School, 34270 Garfield Road; admission $2. No strollers. For details, (586) 218-7975 or SpringCraftShow_FHS@yahoo.com.

Charity bowling
Charity Bowling for Life to benefit the American Cancer Society's Relay for Life-Shelby Township, 1 p.m. check-in, 2 p.m. start, March 13, Shelby Lanes, 50721 Van Dyke. Three games of 9-pin no-tap, mystery games, giveaways, pizza, soft drinks and cash bar; $25 per person. Call (586) 634-9539 or (810) 523-4389.

'Something Old ...'
Club Venetian and Front Row Productions present "Something Old, Something New!," a program of Broadway classics, 6 p.m. Feb. 25 with light dinner, $25 per person; same time Feb. 26 with Italian buffet, $30; and 1 p.m. Feb. 27 with brunch, $35, at Club Venetian Banquet Center, 29310 John R, Madison Heights. Call (248) 399-6788.

Euchre tournaments
Adult euchre tournaments, March 4 and May 6, Fr. Welch Hall at St. Peter Catholic Church, 95 Market St., Mount Clemens, 6:30 p.m. registration, $10 buy-in, also raffles. Reservations, (586) 216-1538 or (586) 463-8644.
Euchre fundraiser for Susan G. Komen 3-Day for the Cure, 6 p.m. March 5, upstairs at Total Sports, 40501 Production Drive, Harrison Township, 50 cents per euchre. Admission $20 includes dinner, soft drinks water, cash bar. Call (586) 292-4101 or (586) 489-7009.

Dog shows
Detroit Kennel Club Dog Shows, March 5-6 at Cobo Center in Detroit; tickets $15 adults, $8 younger than 12 and 60 and older, free younger than 2; family packs, two adults, three children, $40. Tickets sold only at door. Dogs on display to public and demonstrations 9 a.m.-5 p.m. each day; Best in Show enter ring at approximately 6 p.m. 

Women's conference
Womencenter of Oakland Community College Orchard Ridge Campus in Farmington Hills presents its 19th "A Call to Wholeness" conference for women, 8:30 a.m.-3:30 p.m. March 19 in J Building on the campus, 27055 Orchard Lake Road, south of Interstate 696. Admission $40, includes two workshops, continental breakfast, lunch and prize drawing. Register by calling, (248) 522-3642.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Nifty invention saves time, energy and water

Consumer energy providers estimate that the typical American household does nearly 400 loads of laundry per year, using about 40 gallons of water per full load.

I guess my family is above average then.

Because with the kids, a snow dog, fat cat, work, play, school and Michigan weather all playing a role, I am pretty sure I’m doing way more loads that that. 

So you can imagine how delighted I was to learn about Mister Steamy, a nifty little invention designed to make laundry less of a chore. 

“The idea for Mister Steamy stemmed from co-inventor Will Howe’s mom’s homemade method of throwing a wet towel to help refresh dryer loads,” said co-inventor Ric Payne. “After commiserating over how much time it takes to iron clothes and wishing for an easy way to refresh clothes in the dryer, we knew there had to be a better way to solve both of these problems. Thus, Mister Steamy was born.”

I do not do a lot of ironing since most of the garments are permanent press, nylon, jeans or a combination of cotton/spandex. However, there are plenty of times when I will see a shirt or a pair of pants tossed into the laundry because after being worn once, it has become too wrinkled to wear.

This is where I have come to appreciate Mister Steamy. You just add water to the green grapefruit-sized ball and toss it into the dryer, along with the wrinkled garments and within a short time you’ve got wrinkle-free clothes. You just have to remember to pull the clothes out. Also neat about the dryer ball is the ability to add a shot of fabric softener to refresh clothes that don’t need to go through a full cycle of wash. I tried the Mister Steamy Fresh Shot formula and it was nice, but I found my regular fabric softener to be just as effective in refreshing certain garments. 

I will continue to use Mister Steamy dryer ball, as long as Mrs. Cat is not around. The banging of the hard plastic ball inside the drum of the dryer really freaked her out. 

It retails for about $15 and is sold at Wal-Mart, Bed Bath & Beyond, Toys ‘R’ Us, CVS and Walgreens.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Prince William and Kate's tour brings back memories of royal faux pas

Princess Anne greets the public during a royal tour in Saskatchewan.
The announcement that Prince William and his bride-to-be Kate Middleton, will take their first official royal tour as a married couple in Canada, made me chuckle as it brought back fond memories of my coverage of Princess Anne's royal visit to Saskatchewan, when I was a journalism student still trying to find her literary groove. 

One of the positions that I have maintained throughout my career is that it's important to dress appropriately for both the event and the assignment. If I'm covering a turkey shoot and I know I'll be interviewing a farmer at work in his barn, I will not be sporting fancy heels.

On this royal occasion, I was assigned to cover Princess Anne's outdoor tour of area churches and historical sites. No one-on-one interview, just a curtsy introduction at the airport. After that, I would be climbing stairs, fences, gates and people.

Prior to getting our press credentials, journalists and photographers were given instructions on proper etiquette and attire. I didn't have to read it. My parents raised me to be polite and I knew how to act in the company of distinguished guests. 

Our small contingent of reporters and photographers were told to arrive at the airport early so the British public relations officer could go over the itinerary. I couldn't have been more excited. My editor Michael and I were off for the whole day and everything was scheduled for the front page.
When we reached the airport runway we were greeted by several other journalists we knew, including a reporter from a rival paper. She was wearing a pretty summer dress and fancy shoes. I chose to wear dress pants, dress shoes and a very bright blouse (so my editor could spot me in a crowd). I would have talked to that reporter, but her glaring eyes forced me to look the other way. Maybe she was shocked that I would disregard a royal order, or that I chose something so bright. Also greeting us on the runway was Princess Anne's press agent. I do not remember his exact words but he singled me out for not wearing proper attire. My face turned as red as the suited Mountie on guard next to me.

Here's why I still chuckle to this day.

When the helicopter approached, the wind kicked up and so did the reporter's dress. She looked like an umbrella caught in a hurricane. Desperately she tried to hold it down, but it kept flying up, up, into her face. When the helicopter finally landed, and the wind subsided long enough for her dress to land, it was she who had the red face.

Before I curtsied, I tossed the British thug who singled me out a theatrical now-you-know-why I wore slacks look.

The end

Mario Testino photo of Prince William
and his fiancee Kate Middleton.
This year's royal tour will come just two months after William and Kate's April 29 nuptials in London. Prime Minister Stephen Harper said, "Canada looks forward to welcoming the young couple and providing them with all that the country has to offer including, of course, the special hospitality and warmth reserved for members of the Royal Family." 

Prince William has visited Canada several times. He and Prince Harry joined their dad Prince Charles on a ski trip to Whistler, British Columbia, in 1998. He and Prince Harry also accompanied their father and late mother Princess Diana on a royal tour of Ontario in 1991.

The Canadian Press reported that as news of the tour spread online, reaction ranged from "who cares" to "can't wait!"

"William & Kate are going to be here for Canada Day. Oh my GAWD. Best news of the week," wrote one user on Twitter, who tagged her post with the words "royal obsession."

Details of the tour (and of course proper attire) will be released in the coming months.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Adults get an education in teaching children to garden

Master Gardeners might know a lot about plants, but teaching little sprouts how to grow tomatoes is a whole other field. 

That's why the Macomb MSU Extension will present "Let's Get Growing," a four-week class that instructs adults how to teach gardening to young people.
"I've been doing this for about nine years," said 4-H Extension educator Anne Croster. "Participants are usually Master Gardeners who think they might like to work with kids, or teachers who want to have a school garden. I've even had some from a church group take the class."

Metro Newspaper Services photo
The Macomb MSU Extension's "Let's Get Growing," class will show you
how to teach gardening to children in a fun way.

 The course will cover plants, plant parts and their uses, bugs and diseases, soil, water and everything in between including tips for organizing and administering youth gardening programs. 

First lady Michelle Obama has encouraged teachers and families - as part of her "Let's Move" campaign against childhood obesity - to start school gardens not only as a means of exercising outdoors but as a hands-on lesson in growing, harvesting and eating healthy foods.

"We're going to need you to be big and strong because we need you to grow up and do important things," said Obama, addressing a group of excited students at a school in Atlanta, and reminding them to eat lots of fruits and

Participants will learn how to make lessons age-specific. For example, one of the projects used to teach kids about garden vegetables calls for them to divide a paper plate into pie pieces. Then they are asked to write on each pie section the name of a plant they would use to make a salad. Since kindergarteners cannot read, teachers are shown a different approach for them.

"Instead of writing the words, they can draw a picture," Croster said. 

The course is all about having fun with gardening.

Since adults and kids both love to snack, at the end of most classes, participants enjoy a treat having something to do with the lesson, such as salad or Croster's famous dirt dessert featuring graham crackers, pudding and gummy worms. Even on the day everyone learns about ponds, Croster has something in mind. "I have a lot of fun teaching the Master Gardeners. A lot of the lessons are a real stitch," said Croster, who started the program after retiring as a high school social studies teacher.

What's nice about the classes is that they give gardeners, teachers, parents and church groups a chance to network with established Junior Master Gardeners and leaders of other school garden programs.

Let's Get Growing will be held at Macomb MSU Extension offices, 21885 Dunham Road in Clinton Township, from 6 to 9 p.m. Thursdays, Feb. 24-March 17. Cost of the course is $50. To register by the Feb. 22 deadline, contact Roberta at (586) 469-6431.

Send your comments or home and garden tips to Gina Joseph, The Macomb Daily, 100 Macomb Daily Drive, Mount Clemens, MI 48043, or e-mail them to gina.joseph@macombdaily.com.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Daytripping: The Community House has been the place to go for 90 years

A colleague once told me that you're not a true Michigander unless you've traveled to Mackinac Island, sampled its creamy fudge, walked the porch of the Grand Hotel and conned your parents into buying you a rubber tomahawk.
Mackinac Island is on my bucket list of destinations, events and experiences, which is actually more of a tub than a bucket. Whenever possible, I will share the gems that I discover, in our listing of things to do in a day. 
While covering the Elmore Leonard Literary Arts and Film Festival, for example, I was given the opportunity to visit The Community House, a landmark since 1923, located in downtown Birmingham. It was established by a small group of women with a vision to make a house big enough for dances, group meetings, concerts and plays assessable to the community. The idea blossomed and grew until the little house, where it all began, became too small to hold its visitors. A campaign for a bigger home was initiated, and on April 28, 1930, The Community House on Bates Street opened to the public. You could host a wedding there now (really, they do it all the time). 

Despite the overwhelming changes in our society and economy, in its almost 90 years of existence, the house has remained true to the founders' vision of providing a place for the community to gather, learn and experience new things. 

The Community House Events Calendar features an eclectic mixture of programs, shows and events for everyone in the community. For example: at 7:30 a.m. March 3, the Influential Women Breakfast featuring K. Bobbie Carbone, M.D., chief operating officer of the Beaumont Health System. Tickets are $16 in advance; $20 at the door (includes breakfast). To make reservations, call (248) 644-5832 or e-mail iwb@communityhouse.com; 10:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m.

March 5 and 2 and 5 p.m. March 6, Sara Smith Productions Youth Theatre presents Meredith Wilson's "The Music Man Junior." Tickets are $10 for kids' floor seating; $15 general seating; $30 for VIP seating. For tickets, call (248) 644-5832. The Community House is located at 380 South Bates Street in Birmingham.

Below are a few other day trip events and destinations going on in the Metro Detroit area:

Royal tea
The Grosse Pointe War Memorial will present a special tea featuring an audience with Queen Elizabeth I, from 12:30-2:30 p.m., Feb. 24. Participants will enjoy an opportunity to meet and mingle with Her Royal Heiness and a member of her court, portrayed by historical re-enactors along with a selection of sandwiches and sweets befitting such a royal engagement. Cost: $23 per person. Reservations are required by calling (313) 881-7511, ext. 145. For more information about the educational and cultural programs, visit The Grosse Pointe War Memorial

Redford Theatre photo by Michael Shuster (shupictures.com)
Weekend movie
The Redford Theatre will present "The Harvey Girls," (MGM, 1946) Feb. 25 and 26, starring Judy Garland, Ray Bolger, and Angela Lansbury. This film won an Oscar for Best Music/Original Songs. Tonight's screening is at 8 pm. There are two showings on Saturday, 2 pm and 8 pm. General admission tickets: $4.00. Price includes a great movie experience on the Redford's silver screen plus live music. Welcoming tunes at 7 p.m. both nights by Chris Cavanaugh and Connie Masserant (Saturday 1pm) from the lobby piano. Auditorium's pipe organ performance will feature Tony O'Brien. Parking is free. The Redford Theatre is located at the NE corner of Grand River Ave. and Lahser Rd. 

For more info, contact GoodTimes@RedfordTheatre.com, visit The Redford Theatre or call 313-537-2560.

Pool party
Private swim pool party for families with children on the autism spectrum, 8-10 p.m. Feb. 19, at Macomb Recreation Aquatic Center, 54111 Broughton, Macomb Township. Free event sponsored by Friends of Jacob Foundation, a nonprofit organization that helps families affected by the autism spectrum by providing financial assistance. RSVP to keith@friendsofjacob.org.

Comedy for a Cause
Comedy For A Cause 33, benefit for Promise Village Home for Children, Feb. 18, Woodside Bible Church, 6600 Rochester Road, north of Square Lake Road, Troy. Doors open 6 p.m., show at 7, featuring "clean comedians" Max Winfrey and Daren Streblow. Free, offering taken. Visit Promise Village or call 877-A-PROMISE.

Ringwald Theatre
"Fat Attraction: A Greek Tragedy," weekends and Mondays Feb. 18-March 14 at Ringwald Theatre in Ferndale; tickets $20 Fridays and Saturdays, $15 Sundays, $10 Mondays. Call (248) 545-5545 or visit Who Wants A Cake Theatre

Card parties
Michigan Fraternal Order of Police Auxiliary card parties, 5 p.m.-2 a.m. Feb. 19-22 at Pampa Lanes Poker Room - Cards for a Cause, 31925 Van dyke, Warren. Call (248) 678-2755.

Rackham Symphony
"An Affair to Remember," annual fundraiser for Rackham Symphony Choir, 6:30 p.m. Feb. 19, Andiamo Italia, 7096 14 Mile Road, west of Van Dyke, Warren. Tickets, $70, include jazz performance, silent auction, food, dancing. Call (313) 404-0222 or visit Rackham Symphony Choir Also, performance of "A Gershwin Rhapsody," 7:30 p.m. March 12 at Detroit Opera House, 1526 Broadway, Detroit; pre-concert talk at 6:30 p.m. Tickets $18-$65; Detroit Opera House or (313) 404-0222.

Fraser Library
Belle from "Beauty and the Beast" and chorus members from Warren Civic Theatre's production at Fraser Public Library upstairs meeting room, 16330 14 Mile Road, 1:30 p.m. Feb. 26. Free. Minimum age to attend 3-1/2 years; no strollers allowed. Call (586) 293-2055.

Concert Band
South Oakland Concert Band performance with guest David Jenson, trombonist and Royal Oak High School band director, 3 p.m. Feb. 27 at Royal Oak High School, 1500 Lexington Ave. off Crooks Road. Tickets $10 adults, $8 seniors and students, free younger than 12. Call (586) 323-6094 or South Oakland Concert Band

Photo courtesy Oscars.org
Oscar party
Southgate Digital Cinema 20 presents its 12th annual Oscar Night America Party to benefit the Southgate Community Players, the Overture Society and Ballet Americana -- featuring a live ABC broadcast of the 83rd Academy Awards, Feb. 27. It's a tradition for Detroit-area film buffs who attend for the show, wonderful food, wine, raffles and costume contest. Doors open: 7 p.m. Cost: $25 in advance; $30 at the door. Tickets can be charged by phone at (734) 282-4727, or online at scponstage.com. For more information visit MJR Southgate Digital Cinema 20 at 15651 Trenton Road, Southgate.

Child actors
St. Clair Shores Players auditions for ages 12 and older for spring production of "Our Town," 7:30 p.m. Feb. 23-24, at Good Shepherd United Methodist Church, 31601 Harper, St. Clair Shores. Call (586) 779-3122 or visit St. Clair Shores Players

'Mighty Horns'
Detroit Chamber Winds & Strings" presents "Mighty Horns" concert 3 p.m. Feb. 20 at First United Methodist Church of Birmingham, 1589 W. Maple between Southfield and Cranbrook roads. Discussion on brass chamber music at 2:15 p.m. Advance concert tickets, $25 adults, $22 ages 60 and older, $10 students, available at Detroit Chamber or (248) 559-2095; tickets $5 more at door.

UDM Theatre
University of Detroit Mercy Theatre Company presents David Mamet's "A Life in the Theatre," weekends through Feb. 20; 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, 1 p.m. Sundays at Marygrove Theatre on Marygrove College campus, 8425 W. McNichols. Adults $18, students $9; $3 service fee per order for non-subscribers, no fee for students. Call (313) 993-3270 or UDM Theater Company

Precious Pets
Fundraiser for Precious Pets Adoption League, 5-8 p.m. Feb. 24 at National Coney Island, I-696 and Gratiot, Roseville; 15 percent of food purchases donated to League (not valid on carryouts).
Detroit Repertory
"A Lesson Before Dying," weekends through March 20 at Detroit Repertory Theatre, 13103 Woodrow Wilson. Free parking. For tickets, (313) 868-1347 or Detroit Repertory

Grosse Pointe Artists
"Resolutions" exhibit, through Feb. 26, Grosse Pointe Artists Association, 16900 Kercheval Ave. 
OU Art Gallery
Oakland University Art Gallery hosts "Cynthia Grieg: Subverting the  (un)Conventional," an exhibit by the photographer/conceptual artist,  through Feb. 20, in 208 Wilson Hall. The gallery will also feature "New Eden: The Life and Work of Isabelle Raymond (1993-present)," and include an installation/reconstruction of a 19th century room containing some of Raymond's photographs.
The gallery is located on the Oakland University campus, 2200 N. Squirrel Road in Rochester Hills, and is open noon-5 p.m. Tuesdays through Sundays. Call (248) 370-3005.

Exhibit photo courtesy of Holocaust Center
Moving experience
'A Day in the Warsaw Ghetto: A Birthday Trip to Hell" exhibit, through March 12, Holocaust Memorial Center, 28123 Orchard Lake Road, Farmington Hills. Hours 9:30 a.m.-5 p.m. Sunday-Thursday, 9:30 a.m.-3 p.m. Friday; (248) 553-2400 or The Holocaust Memorial Center
Master Gardeners
Macomb MSU Extension Master Gardener 2011 volunteer training program, 6-10 p.m. Thursdays, March 24-June 2, and Mondays, 6-10 p.m. Aug. 8-Oct. 24. For registration packets: (586) 469-6440 or e-mail goeddek2@msu.edu or Maureen.prisbe@macombcountymi.gov.

Staff editor Debbie Komar contributed to this list

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

It's as easy as dirt to win a ‘Rango’ family prize pack!

Paramount Pictures

Dig out your Durangos. 

If the trailers for Paramount Pictures’ newest animated feature are really just teasers and not all of the best ingredients stuffed into one enchilada, come March 4, when this film is released, everybody will be doing the "Rango."

It's a new dance, too. 

Not an adaptation of a popular novel or a sequel to something else but an original story by scriber John Logan (“Gladiator,” “The Last Samurai” and “The Aviator”), based on an idea by director and filmmaker Gore Verbinski ("The Mexican,” “The Ring" and all of the "Pirates of the Caribbean" movies).

Paramount Pictures
The animated comedy-adventure (or spaghetti western) features the voice of Johnny Depp as a sheltered chameleon living as an ordinary family pet, while facing a major identity crisis. After all, how great can things be when your whole purpose in life is to blend in? When Rango accidentally winds up in the gritty, gun-slinging town of Dirt -- a lawless outpost populated by the desert's most wily and whimsical creatures -- the less-than-courageous lizard suddenly finds he stands out. Pinned as the last hope against the bullies, new sheriff Rango is forced to play his role to the hilt, until, in a blaze of action-packed situations (think Pirates-craziness) with outrageous characters, Rango becomes the hero he was born to be. 

AP Photo/Dan Steinberg
Actor Johnny Depp arrives at the premiere
of "Rango" in Los Angeles on Feb. 14.
This is not the first time Depp has worked as a voice actor. He spoke the words of Victor Van Dort in Tim Burton's Oscar-nominated "Corpse Bride” (2005). It earned Depp a nod from the Kids Choice Awards for favorite voice in an animated feature. What his fans will love about this role is that they will actually hear the Depp-talk but also see the Depp-walk. State-of-the-art animation techniques have allowed filmmakers to capture his brilliant but peculiar, devious, yet loveable personality in a way that has yet to be seen in an animated feature.

AP Photo/Dan Steinberg
Actor Timothy Olyphant.
That's not all there is to kick up your heels about. The film also stars Timothy Olyphant as the Spirit of the West. If you're from these parts, you know he is the star of the popular TV western, "Justified," which is based on an original story by Michigan author Elmore Leonard. 

Also featured are the voices of Isla Fisher and Abigail Breslin.

Contest details
Now that I have corralled your attention, and we still have a few hours of daylight before we do the Rango, let me tell you about a contest we're having. It not only honors the town of Dirt, but could fetch you a couple of “Rango” family prize packs featuring movie passes, T-shirts, posters, fans and cups!

What we want you to do is make Kraft Food's recipe for Dirt Cups , a Western-style snack with true grit (and rather tasty). Then send us a photo of you and your family, with your version of the treat. You could win one of two prize packs. E-mail your photos (as jpeg attachments) to gina.joseph@macombdaily.com. Be sure to include first and last names and city of residence. Entries must be received by Feb. 28 to be eligible for prizes.

Paramount Pictures "Rango" poster.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Book review: Weird but true! 2 is filled with facts kids care about

If you want to get a little boy's attention, tell him something true about a dinosaur or his favorite superhero. Whether it has something to do with wanting to impress their friends or a natural curiosity, children love nonfiction books. There’s just something neat about real facts, especially when it has to do with interesting things about monkeys and dolphins, ice cream, boogers and Zamboni machines and stuff most people don't know.

Did you know that a piece of cake more than 4,000 years old was found in a tomb in Egypt? I bet you didn't. Can you imagine how tasty that would be?

How about mosquitoes?
Did you know that boy mosquitoes don't bite?

Get the camera and find the dog. He or she can make about 100 different facial expressions. It's wild but true and one of several hundred wacky entries in "Weird but True! 2: 300 Outrageous Facts" (National Geographic Kids, $6.95), a new children's book illustrated by Jonathan Halling, who was the same artist who worked on National Geographic's first volume on weird. 

Halling's wonderful illustrations and, of course, the amazing photography one would expect in a National Geographic publication are reasons I enjoyed it. It's not just a book about sweet facts, but a whimsical collection of designs and wordage that make it fun to read, out loud, to others. Like a joke book. That's a bonus.

Another thing, most books that are stuffed with interesting facts are difficult for kids to hold -- as in e-n-c-y-c-l-o-p-e-d-i-a! This book's compact size makes it a grab-and-go read; easy to handle and small enough to stuff in a backpack or glove compartment for those road trips that can seem infinite when you've got antsy backseat passengers.

So what's your passion: animals, pyramids, food?

Chances are you'll find a snippet in here. The brain-bending facts provided by National Geographic cover a broad range of topics from animals and science to foods, pop culture and everything in between.

Need a line for a funny Valentine?
A hippo's lips are about two feet wide!

Couples in Finland can get married in a chapel built out of snow.

Oh, yeah and that gizmo your mom and dad are reading from? Let them know, a litter of kittens is also called a kindle.

Oh yeah, and you know how you love snow days? Maybe you should ask your mom if you have "Didaskaleinophobia?" That's the fear of going to school. I'll leave you with that, while I look for something related to work.