Friday, September 28, 2012

Diamonds discovered in the rough at the Toronto International Film Festival

One of the big thrills about covering a film festival is discovering a gem on your own. 

Last year, while on my way to the celebrity ball - that being the premiere of Brad Pitt's film about baseball general manager Billy Beane -- I got tangled up in line for Rush tickets. Not the band Rush, but the rush line for extra tickets. Normally, you'll see 10 or 20 people, but this time there were hundreds standing in a line that went around the corner and down the street. Turns out an Iranian filmmaker, under house arrest for making a film, made a film about being under house arrest. It arrived at TIFF by way of a USB thumb drive smuggled into Canada in a loaf of bread. Like everyone else, I had to see it for myself -- if for no other reason than to pay tribute to the artist's efforts. 

So, I bowed out of the Pitt press conference and went to the screening of "This is not a film." 

It made me laugh and cry. Most of all, it made me appreciate how lucky we are as writers or filmmakers and audiences to choose what we want to create and see.

This year's gem, "Far Out Isn't Enough,"  was discovered by accident thanks to an usher who had no idea what film was showing and nodded to yes to all questions asked. I went to the screening thinking it was something else, and boy was it something. 

Not only is Ungerer's story interesting -- he was the first children's author to make a kids book about creepy things like a snake, was blacklisted in America and his books were banned by libraries for publishing erotica artwork - but fun to watch. Its director Brad Bernstein combines traditional documentary storytelling with original animation including that of Ungerer himself. 

Additional interviews with illustrators such as Maurice Sendak, who says in the documentary there would be no "Where the Wild Things Are" without Ungerer, also make it a gem. 


Friday, September 21, 2012

Children and readers benefit from used books donated to Second Story

Metro Newspaper Services.
It’s time for Second Story, a beloved used book sale put on by volunteers at St. Peter Lutheran Church.

Being one who loves literary works and because this sale put on by St. Peter Lutheran Church benefits the Macomb Charitable Foundation, a charity known to provide support to needy children and their families, I would call it beloved.

It is also one of the largest used book sales in the area?

Thanks to the book donations, which, by the way are now being accepted at the church, located at 24 Mile and Romeo Plank Roads, during business hours.

So, bring it.

Adults and children’s books along with CDs, DVDs, puzzles and games will be accepted by volunteers – who sort and categorize every donation to create a colossal sale to the entrance at door 25.

And attend it, Oct. 24-28.

During my review of last year’s event I managed to find several volumes from the Harry Potter series, in mint condition, along with a trifecta of old (and rare) Charles Dickens’ novels. One woman told me that she looked forward to the event every year, and that her big interest was in children’s book series such as Nancy Drew, Hardy Boys and Encyclopedia Brown.

Entrance to the sale is at door 12 starting on Oct. 24. Hours on the first day will be 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. The remaining sale hours are: Oct. 26, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Oct. 27, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., Oct. 28, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. 

For more information call Bill or Dianne Wetzel at 586-484-6369.

The book sale is not for a couple of weeks -- but there is plenty of fun things happening in the next couple of days. Check out our listing of family-friendly events and activities going on in the Detroit area:

Community wellness day
Sterling Heights will host its second annual Community Wellness Day, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., Saturday Sept. 29 at the American Polish Cultural Center, 2975 East Maple Road (corner of Dequindre and 15 Mile Road) in Troy. Learn about healthy cooking, exercises such as Zumba, yoga, gymnastics and martial arts, internet safety, identity protection and traffic safety and meet Helen Phillips from the popular TV show, "Biggest Loser." Admission is free for all ages including children who will be treated to a petting zoo and wagon rides.  

Kitchen Tour

Henry Ford Medical Center-Cottage Auxiliary Kitchen Tour, noon-5 p.m. Sept. 30 featuring eight recently remodeled Grosse Pointe kitchens; no strollers or cameras. Tickets $15 advance, $20 day of tour; proceeds benefit hospital’s Women’s Diagnostic Center. Preview party 4-8 p.m. Sept. 29 includes tour plus refreshments; tickets $35 and $50. For details and tickets, call 313-885-0604 or 313-881-6784.

Historical Society
“Civil War Days in New Baltimore” featured at the 22nd History Fair of the New Baltimore Historical Society, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Sept. 22-23, at the Grand Pacific House Museum, 51065 Washington St., New Baltimore. For details, call 586-725-2770.

Lorenzo Center
“Changing Gears: The Birth of American Industry” programs begin Sept. 22 and continue with a variety of related topics through Oct. 7, at the Lorenzo Cultural Center at Macomb Community College Center Campus, Hall and Garfield roads, Clinton Township. For complete schedule information, visit www.lorenzoculturalcenter.com.

Turning Point
Turning Point Tara Grant Walk/Run begins with 9 a.m. registration Sept. 29, followed by 5K run at 10 a.m., walk at 10:15, refreshments, awards and prizes at 11:15, at 1 Crocker Blvd., Mount Clemens. To register, http://taragrantwalkrun.evenbrite.com or visit www.turningpointmacomb.org.

Rummage sale
Polish Legion of American Veterans Ladies Auxiliary Chapter 165 holds rummage and bake sale 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Sept. 28-29, at the post home, 6131 10 Mile Road, east of Mound, Warren. Proceeds go to hospitalized veterans.

Line dancing
Line dancing classes at Addams Elementary School, 6:30-7:30 p.m. beginners, 7:30-8:25 p.m. beginners plus, Mondays; line dance and couples’ classes for basic beginners at Roseville Recreation Center, 18185 Sycamore, line dancers 6-6:50 p.m., couples 8-8:50 p.m. Tuesdays; line dancing 12:30-1:30 p.m. basic beginners, 1-2:30 p.m. beginner plus, Thursdays at Warren Community Center, 5460 Arden. For fee and details, 586-777-7242 or countrycussins@wowway.com.

Military Society
Michigan Military Technical & Historical society program on “Scale Industry Supports Victory” (the military application of scales, balanes, weights and measures from the Civil War to WWII), 2 p.m. Sept. 22, at 16600 Stephens, Eastpointe. Admission by donation.

Plant exchange
Yardeners of St. Clair Shores host fall plant exchange 9-11 a.m. Sept. 22, in the St. Clair Shores Library parking lot at 11 Mile Road and Jefferson. All plants should be labeled. Call 586-415-7110.

GP War Memorial
Free outdoor “Wheel ‘n’ Deal” flea market, 9:30 a.m.-2 p.m. Sept. 22, at Grosse Pointe War Memorial, 32 Lakeshore Drive. Market includes fashions, furnishings, housewares, sporting equipment, etc.

Antiques Road Show
Harrison Township Library hosts Antiques Road Show, 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Sept. 23, at 38151 L’Anse Creuse. Verbal appraisals $5 per item, no weapons. Call 586-329-1261.

Fall rides
Cider and Donut Wagon Rides, noon-3 p.m. Sept. 23, at Wolcott Mill Metropark Farm Center, Ray Township. Fee $6 adults, $4 seniors and children; call 586-752-5932.

VFW events
Upcoming events at VFW Post 7573, 35011 23 Mile Road, New Baltimore, noon-4 p.m. Sept. 22, Air Force Birthday Celebration; 6 p.m. Sept. 29, Oktoberfest dinner, $10, includes meal and desserts. For reservations, 586-725-7100.

Live animals
Live Bats and Other Animals of the Night program, 2 p.m. Sept. 22, at Burgess-Shadbush Nature Center, 4101 River Bends Drive at Ryan and Hamlin roads entrance to River Bends Park, Shelby Township. Admission $4 ages 4 and older. To register, shelbytwp.org.

Zumba fitness
Zumba fitness classes at a variety of locations through Macomb County, also Zumba Gold lower-impact classes. For details, call 586-443-6875 or billshoe@live.com.

Sewing Expo
The 19th American Sewing Expo takes place Sept. 28-30 at Suburban Collection Showplace, 46100 Grand River, Novi. Hours 9 a.m.-6 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Sunday. Admission $14, free ages 15 and younger with paying adult. Preshow workshops also available. For details, www.AmericanSewingExpo.com or 248-889-3111.

PAWS for Reading
St. Clair Shores Public Library, 22500 11 Mile Road at Jefferson, continues its PAWS for Reading program 10:30-11:30 a.m. Saturdays. Children may read any book to Morgan the Pug or Toby the Yellow Lab for 15 minutes on a first-come, first-served basis. Call 586-771-9020.

Assumption Kalosomatics
Kalosomatics exercise classes under way at Assumption Cultural Center, 21800 Marter Road, St. Clair Shores. Sessions held mornings and evenings, with baby-sitting services available. For details, 586-779-6111 Ext. 4.

On stage
Bah humbug! Clintondale Community Theatre will hold auditions for “A Seussified Christmas Carol,” from 7 to 9 p.m., Sept. 24-27 at Clintondale High School drama room. Theater entrance located off 15 Mile Road across from Baker College. For more information call 586-791-6301, ext. 2409.
Richmond Community Theatre presents “Grease,” 8 p.m. Sept. 22 and 2 p.m. Sept. 23, at the theater, 69619 Parker St. at Churchill. For reservations, 586-727-9518 or 586-243-4104.
Avon Players starts new season with musical “Bye Bye Birdie,” through Sept. 22, at the theater, 1185 Washington Road, Rochester. Performances are 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays and 2 p.m. Sundays. For tickets, $16-$18, call 248-608-9077 or visit www.avonplayers.org. Student, senior and group rates available, as are season tickets.
New season at Broadway Onstage begins with “God of Carnage,” 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays and 2 p.m. select Sundays, through Oct. 6, at 21517 Kelly Road, Eastpointe. For ticket information, 586-771-6333.
Stagecrafters presents “Legally Blonde – The Musical,” Thursdays-Sundays, through Sept. 30, at the Baldwin Theatre in downtown Royal Oak. Advance tickets $18 Thursdays, $20 weekends; showtimes 8 p.m. Thursday-Saturday, 2 p.m. Sunday. Visit www.stagecrafters.org or call 248-541-6430.
Ridgedale Players present “Lend Me a Tenor,” though Sept. 23, at the theater, 205 W. Long Lake Road. For tickets and details, www.ridgedaleplayers.com or 248-988-7049.
Theatre Company at University of Detroit Mercy presents the comedy “None of the Above,” Oct. 5-7 and 12-14, at Marygrove Theatre, 8425 W. McNicols Road, Detroit. For tickets, 313-993-3270 or theatre.udmercy.edu.
Two Muses Theatre presents premiere of “A Little Work,” Friday and Saturday evenings and Sunday matinees, through Sept. 30, at the theater inside Barnes & Noble Bookseller, 6800 Orchard Lake Road, West Bloomfield. For tickets, $18 adults, $15 students and seniors, 248-850-9919 or www.twomusestheatre.org.

Tea Talk
Crocker House Museum/Macomb County Historical Society present “Tea Talk Tuesdays at Two,” 2 p.m. Oct. 23, at the museum, 15 Union St., Mount Clemens. Events include historical programs, refreshments; tickets $7 Society members, $10 non-members. For reservations, 586-465-2488. Museum tours included.

Ford House
“Fairy Tales at Ford House: A Grimm Celebration” community art exhibit through Nov. 4, at the Edsel & Eleanor Ford House, 1100 Lakeshore Road, Grosse Pointe Shores. Related youth and adult programs continue into the fall; for schedule, www.fordhouse.org.

Sounds of music
Concerts/dancing at Lake St. Clair Metropark, 5-8 p.m. Sundays through Sept. 30. Music free with Metropark vehicle annual entry permit, $25 season, $15 ages 62 and older, or $5 daily. Visit www.metroparks.com or call 586-463-4581.
Symphonia Chorale rehearsals for 19th season 7 p.m. Tuesdays at St. John Lutheran Church, 246 Benjamin St., Romeo. The season includes four concerts. Call 586-336-9816.

Fishing clubs
Vanguard Trout Unlimited for fishing enthusiasts meets 7:30 p.m. second Thursday monthly at Rochester’s Dinosaur Hill. Also, Fishing Buddies Fishing Club gathers 6:30 p.m. third Tuesdays at Rochester Hills OPC, 650 Leticia Drive. Call 248-375-1931.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Crafty ways to keep kids entertained

Actress Tori Spelling is the mother of four. Celebrity or not, when it rains, she hears those dreaded words, “Mom! I’m bored.” So to beat the boredom blues that come with rainy fall days, Spelling has developed a few tips and activities to keep children entertained. Plus there’s news about a fun contest to help inspire everyone involved – including moms.

Monogram art
Children love to see their name in print, in lights, cement (better make that plaster), even mud. So why not make something you can personalize. For younger children, you could help them trace their first initial in block letters on a piece of poster board. Then pull out your jar of buttons and use glue to fill in the letter with all of the colorful buttons, or even shells or colored macaroni elbows. Older kids might enjoy monogramming a T-shirt with their name or favorite TV character, book or sports team using fabric paints.

Create a time capsule
Imagine how much fun it would be to open a box 10 or even 20 years from now -- when your children have grown up. You’ll need a sealable chest, something waterproof, like a Tupperware container or even a cookie tin. Have each child contribute a few items with a note about why those items are special to them. Then have them make a wish and write it on a piece of paper. No peeking. Fold the paper and include it in the capsule along with family photos. Bury the capsule in the backyard and set a date to “uncover” it.

Painted pencil holder
So you didn’t have time to make your strawberry jam. Be happy you have the jars and consider donating them to our defeat boredom cause. To make the painted pencil jar, you’ll need clean and dry jars, liquid tempera paints, brushes and some white glue or acrylic. Add a dab of the glue to the paint (so it sticks to the glass) and go Monet. If they’re not sure what to make, have them draw something on paper first, then recreate it on the jar.

Cardboard cuckoo clock
Show your group or child a photo of a real cuckoo clock for inspiration. Then encourage the child to draw something similar on a piece of paper or their own version of a cuckoo clock. Color it with markers or  pencils or crayons. Now glue the picture to a piece of cardboard and set it aside to dry. Cut out the shape of the clock house. Then cut a hole in the middle of the house and fit the clock-face according to its instructions. Within minutes you’ll have a working clock that the children have made themselves.
BONUS: Use the clock to teach children about time.

Window painting
Gather up your artists and clear away the curtains near a big picture window. This project, recommended by a teacher I know, is one that everyone will enjoy. Once you've picked a window to work on toss some newspaper or an old sheet on the floor to protect it from drips. Then hand out the aprons or dad's big dress shirts to  and let the kids create a work of art for everyone to see.  Craft stores carry powdered tempera paint -- which is usually a good choice for a project such as this. It's colorful and yes mom -- easy to wash off.

Be sure to supervise any crafts that require children to work with sharp objects, and use non-toxic ingredients.

Craft contest
Now through February 2013, children may enter the “Never Be Bored Again” Instant Win Game for a chance to win one of more than a million boredom-busting prizes. No purchase necessary to play. Open to residents of the 50 states and District of Columbia, between the ages of 6 and 13 as of July 9, 2012. To enter online and see official rules, visit www.lunchables.com/fun. Contest ends Feb. 27, 2013. Void where prohibited.
For questions or comments, contact gina.joseph@macombdaily.com; @ginaljoseph

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Toronto International Film Festival 'Discovers' Michigan director's talent

It’s a wrap for the 37th annual Toronto International Film Festival – which announced its award recipients.

Detroit Unleaded by Michigan director wins at TIFF.


Detroit Unleashed from Michigan director Rola Nashef was the inaugural winner of the Grolsch Film Works Discovery Award, which includes a $10,000 cash prize to put toward her next project. Nashef’s film tells the story of a young American of Lebanese background whose father is killed leaving him to take over the operation of the family’s gas station. 

Still from Seven Psychopaths.

Winning the Blackberry People’s Choice Midnight Madness Award -- or cool award as audiences willing to stand in long lines in the dark at midnight refer to it -- was Martin McDonagh’s Seven Psychopaths. It was known early on that this film would win something at TIFF! Single ticket sales for the witty dognap caper sold out in minutes. Even scalpers could not get seats. The story follows a struggling screenwriter (Colin Farrell) who inadvertently becomes entangled in the Los Angeles criminal underworld after his oddball friends (Christopher Walken and Sam Rockwell) kidnap a gangster’s (Woody Harrelson) beloved Shih Tzu.
“McDonagh (who worked with Farrell previously on the witty hit men-on-holiday-caper In Burges) plays with pop-cinema conventions to offer a wryly wacky commentary on psycho-killer thrillers...,” said TIFF’s programmer. First runner up was Barry Levinson’s “The Bay.”
Seven Psychopaths is due in theaters Oct. 12.

A scene from Silver Linings Playbook
The Blackberry People’s Choice Awards -- also voted on by Festival audiences – went to David O. Russell for “Silver Linings Playbook,” starring Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence. It’s an intense, loving, emotional and funny family story in which Cooper and Lawrence find themselves in a secret arrangement to rebuild their broken lives. The film also stars Robert De Niro as a father who yearns to get closer to his son (Cooper), while trying to keep the family afloat with is compulsive bookmaking.  Russell was the director on another interesting feature about personal and family struggles, The Fighter.
Director/actor Ben Affleck in a scene from Argo.
First runner up for the People’s Choice Award was Ben Affleck’s Iran hostage thriller Argo for which he does double-duty as star and director. Opening in theaters Oct. 12, Argo chronicles a team effort by the CIA and the Canadian government to rescue six Americans from Tehran after the U.S. embassy was taken over by Islamist militants in 1978. The six Americans were hidden by Canadian authorities while 52 others were held hostage at the embassy. Canada worked with U.S. operatives to concoct an elaborate scheme (they pretend they’re on a location scout for a movie) to get them out of the country.
During a press conference in Toronto Affleck thanked Canada on behalf of himself and his fellow Americans. 

AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Michelle Siu
“It’s really a movie about Canadian heroics and the relationship between Canada and America,” Affleck said. “Once you see the movie, you’ll see how it resonates, the theme of, ‘Thank you Canada.’”

Affleck’s appearance in Toronto also supported the festival’s premiere of Terrence Malick’s romantic rumination, “To the Wonder,” featuring Rachel McAdams, Javier Bardem and Olga Kurylenko.  Affleck plays an American whose relationship to a woman he met overseas turns cold, leaving him drifting back toward a childhood love.

A scene from Blackbird featuring Connor Jessup.
Brandon Cronenberg’s Antiviral and won the SKYY Vodka Award for Best Canadian First Feature Film. Yes, Brandon is the son of director/producer David Cronenberg, who is one of the principal originators of the film genre known as body horror. Think The Fly and The Dead Zone films featuring a theme that explores people's fears of bodily transformation and infection. Also a winner for this award (it was a tie) was Jason Buxton’s Blackbird starring Connor Jessup, a young actor, and an up and coming writer, director, producer and editor best known for his leading role in the Discovery Kids television series Saddle Club, in which he played Simon Atherton, a 13-year-old computer geek. He is more recently known for his portrayal of Ben Mason, in the 2011 television series Falling Skies. Blackbird is the story of an alienated teenager's posturing online threat ignites a firestorm of fear in a small community.

Other TIFF awards included:

  • Blackberry People’s Choice Documentary Award – Bartholomew Cubbins for Artifact. First runner up was Storm Surfers 3D by Christopher Nelius and Justin McMillan.
  • NETPAC Award for Best World or International Asian Feature Film Premiere – Sion Sono’s The Land of Hope.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Have a family adventure outdoors

So the leisure days of summer are over. That does not mean, however, that our time outdoors should come to an end. On the contrary, if you have children who are naturally curious and full of questions about the world around them, there is no better way to teach them about the environment and science than a walk in the woods or a trip to the zoo. It’s also a great way to spend some quality time with the family.

“Hands-on experiences help kids of all ages grasp concepts and retain information,” according to a report by TruGreen, creators of MyBotanicalPlanet.com, a free website with lesson plans and interactive games for students in grades K-5 who want to explore basic botany and water conservation. The site features lesson plans that are designed to be fun and educational. However, it’s something you might want to do after a trip outdoors or in the case of rain.

If you’re looking for ideas that you can use to help your kids love learning about science outdoors, here are a few suggestions from active moms and Watershed Fred -- who is the educational character featured at MyBotanicalPlanet.com.

Plan a field trip.
Pack a snack of gummy frogs or a hearty sandwich and embark on a journey. It can be a short trip or an all-day adventure and do not let the threat of rain stop you. Instead, don your raincoat and rubber boots and carry on.

Explore your backyard.
Who said you have to drive to your destination? Check out your own backyard or nearby woodlands. I used to love collecting leaf samples that I later used for projects like a collage. Consider packing a magnifying glass so you can do some serious research: Examining bugs, plant stems, tree bark and spider webs. Watershed Fred suggests having your child give an explorer’s report on what he or she finds.

Your home turf.
Take photographs of the different trees and bushes in the neighborhood that you can identify later. Who knows? You might have a rare species of tree or plant growing in your backyard. Plan a scavenger hunt at a nearby stream or pond. Make a list of items that everyone must find like animal tracks, water insects, birds fishing or taking a drink, frogs hopping or snakes slithering.

Visit local attractions.
It doesn’t matter if you’ve been there before. As with life -- animals at the zoo are forever changing and growing. For some families it is an annual visit, even monthly. If you want to make it different before you go, have your child check out some library books about one or two of their favorite animals. This way they can learn some facts about those animals and be even more excited while observing them. They might even be able to teach you something new.

For comments or questions, email gina.joseph@macombdaily.com.