Blogs > Tuned in to Pop Culture

They’re not standing around the watercooler, but Cheryl Sadler, Mark Meszoros, Mark Podolski and Nicole Franz are talking about what they’ve been watching, listening to and playing during their free time.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

The golden age of movies

Movies just aren't what they used to be, at least from this writer's perspective.

Remakes, reboots and reimaginings have taken over Hollywood. The experience of moviegoing needs a reboot itself.

Especially when you consider what has to be the greatest 10-year run of movie making in big-screen history, 1972 to 1981.

Here's one man's top 10 favorite movies during that time. If you haven't seen any of these films, what are you waiting for?

10. "Breaking Away" (1979): Underrated film. Don't miss it.

9. "All the President's Men" (1976): Robert Redford and Dustin Hoffman a magical pair.

8. "Halloween" (1978): John Carpenter's horror classic started it all.

7. "The Godfather Part 2" (1974): From Marlon Brando in the original to Robert DeNiro in the sequel. Wow.

6. "Star Wars" (1977): Darth Vader's grand entrance one of the most iconic scenes in film history.

5. "The Empire Strikes Back" (1980): Vader's reveal as Luke Skywalker's father ... enough said.

4. "The Godfather" (1972): Watching this classis is an offer you can't refuse.

3. "Rocky" (1976): Rags to riches has never been filmed any better.

2. "Raiders of the Last Ark" (1981): It starts with 10 minutes of pulse-pounding action and never lets up.

1. "Jaws" (1975): Arguably the most perfectly cast film of all-time.

Ten more you shouldn't miss: "Alien" (1979), "The Exorcist" (1973), "Young Frankenstein" (1974), "The Sting" (1973), "The Poseidon Adventure" (1972), "Apocalypse Now" (1979), "Raging Bull" (1980), "The Omen" (1976), "Superman" (1978), "The Deer Hunter" (1978)

- Mark Podolski

United State of Pop 2010: Don't Stop the Pop

DJ Earworm has mashed up the Top 25 Billboard songs of the year into one big pop song. He says this year's music was "all-out party mode," encouraging people to keep having fun:
It’s a great thing about music that you can leave your worries and lose yourself in the moment. In our current world of dance pop culture fantasy, this takes place at a club, where you can drink, meet the most amazing person you’ve ever met, and where as Ke$ha says, “the party don’t stop”.

Visit his website to listen to and download the mashup, or click on the video embedded below to watch it.

-- Cheryl Sadler

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Do you Words With Friends?

Around Thanksgiving I was introduced to the iPhone/iPod app Words With Friends (and by introduced, I mean my boyfriend downloaded it on my iPod when he wanted to play more matches). Since then I've gotten fairly ... addicted? obsessed? compulsive? I get excited when I pull in my driveway and my iPod catches the wireless signal and chimes, signaling it's my turn in a game. I would be lying if I said part of Christmas at my parents' house didn't involve six people in the same room with their iPods and iPhones playing Words With Friends matches with each other.

The game is essentially Scrabble, but with different point values assigned to the letters and different doubling and tripling squares on the board. You get seven letters to form words off of letters that have already been played, and you can swap tiles or skip a turn if you don't have anything to play (or are holding out for better options). The game ends when one of the players runs out of tiles, and the winner is determined by who has the most points. If you are left with tiles, the total value of those is subtracted from your total and added to your opponent's.

You can download a version of the app for free, which will mean you get an advertisement after every word you play. But right now the app is on sale for 99 cents, and I would recommend spending the dollar to go ad-free.

Within the newsroom, I've beat Executive Editor Tricia Ambrose and narrowly lost to Business Editor Brandon Baker (because my last letters were Q and V! Ain't no way out of that one!). I've beat Entertainment Editor Mark Meszoros once, but he has beat me several times -- and by a lot.

Feel free to challenge cherylgames to a match. Don't be intimidated by the fact that my job is with words -- usually reading them, sometimes writing them, always paying attention to them. I'm looking forward to fresh competition.

-- Cheryl Sadler

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Wednesday, December 29, 2010

2011: Most anticipated albums

As we look forward to the new year, here are some of my most anticipated albums that will be released within the first six months of 2011.

Cake - Showroom of Compassion: Jan. 11
    It’s been seven years since Cake has released an album and lead singer John McRea has promised an overload of piano on the band’s sixth studio album. I’ve been listening to Cake for the past 16 years and am pretty amped up about this release.The band performed a new song called "Long Time" exclusively on (Conan O'Brien's website) and it's pure classic Cake.

Bright Eyes - The People’s Key: Feb. 15
    What would be a Valentine’s Day without Conor Oberst crooning about love and loss. To be fair, the 30-year-old songwriter has grown up and his musical style has changed significantly over the past six years sounding more toward country and folk. However according to wikipedia: "Conor Oberst has stated that the sound of The People's Key will move away from the folk sound that the band had accomplished on previous records. 'We're over the Americana, rootsy, whatever that sound is. People say country but I never thought were very country at all. But whatever that element is or that aesthetic is, I guess it's worn a little thin for me these days. So we very much wanted it to be rocking and, for lack of a better term, contemporary, or modern.'"

Bayside - Killing Time: Feb. 22
    One of the most anticipated releases of the entire year for me is Killing Time. Since 2004, Bayside has easily been one of my top three favorite bands and the first two songs ("Already Gone," "Sick, Sick, Sick") released off the album so far are nothing short of incredible. This will be their first release on a major record label and first release in two and a half years. The band also enlisted Gil Norton as their producer. Lead singer Anthony Raneri said it has been his dream to work with Norton ever since he produced the Foo Fighters' The Colour and the Shape album in 1997.

Dr. Drew - Detox: February or March
    Yes, it’s finally coming out. Nevermind that Dre has been making music since before I was born and by the time this album is released, he’ll be 46-years-old, but this album has been anticipated by the masses for almost a decade.

Lupe Fiasco - LASERS: March 8
    Yes, it’s finally coming out. This album has been completed for almost two years but Universal Records didn’t want to release it due to lack of mainstream material. Not to Universal, Lupe is not a mainstream rapper. The first single, “The Show Goes On,” finds Lupe sampling none other than Modest Mouse.

Panic! At The Disco - Vices and Virtues: March 8
    I’m interested to find out what exactly Panic! At The Disco are going to sound like come 2011. Their last album Pretty. Odd., released in 2008 was absolutely incredible but then the group split in half just leaving vocalist and guitarist Brandon Urie and drummer Spencer Smith. It has been said that Ryan Ross, who quit the band, was the inspiration behind Pretty. Odd. and Urie wanted to go back toward the sound of their first album A Fever You Can’t Sweat Out, which was more geared toward pop rock and Pretty. Odd. was straight from the 1950s and 1960s.

Yellowcard - When You’re Through Thinking, Say Yes: March 22
    Yellowcard broke up following their last release, the disappointing Paper Walls in 2007. The band has regrouped and are set to release their first album on an independent label come March. Not sure what to expect here, but interested nonetheless.

Manchester Orchestra - Simple Math: March
    This will be Manchester Orchestra’s third release and similar to their peers Brand New, their first two releases sound nothing alike. Despite that, they’ve become one of the better true rock bands to emerge from music in the past four years. I expect Simple Math to be another step in the direction of becoming one of rock’s best bands. I thought the band released the best album of 2009, so did ESPN (apparently they have an albums ranking list too.)

Lil Wayne - The Carter IV: February or March  
   Although Lil Wayne served almost a year in prison, he never lost any popularity. He stayed in touch with fans through letters posted on the internet and he shot about a dozen music videos - both solo and as a guest - before he went away to be released during his stint to stay relevant. Now the question is, is everyone sick of him? This will be the fourth installment to The Carter series which have all been very good but I must be honest, I'm not as big on Lil Wayne now as I was two or three years ago. In the past two years, he's released too many mixtapes, too many guest appearances and Rebirth (his dreadful attempt at making a rock album, or so he called it.) Sometimes to truly be appreciated, it's best to go away for a while.

Tentative Spring Releases:

Taking Back Sunday - Taking Back Sunday
    Easily my most anticipated album of the year as the five members who created one of my favorite albums of all-time in 2002, Tell All Your Friends, have reunited to release the band’s fifth studio album. This comes off the heels of the disappointing New Again, released in 2009. Oddly enough, New Again was probably the band’s most critically acclaimed album however all the band members who remain in TBS have been adamant how much of a backward step the release was. And they’re right. However, the band has been cautioning fans not to expect anything that sounds like Tell All Your Friends. The band is in for another big year as they have already been tapped to headline the two-day Bamboozle Festival alongside Lil Wayne and Motley Crue.

Blink 182 - Currently Untitled:
    Continuing with the theme of breaking up and getting back together, Blink, who reformed in early 2009 but were quiet in all of 2010, will release their first album in eight years come this spring. They've been working on the album since the summer of 2009, so I have pretty high expectations for the release.

Sum 41 - Screaming Bloody Murder:
    Once considered a Blink 182 rip-off band, Sum 41 have come into their own over their past three releases and this album should be no different.

Silverstein - Currently Untitled:
    Silverstein released one of their best albums in 2009, A Shipwreck in the Sand, which was a concept album. I was about to give up on them before that release but now I’m pretty excited to see what they have in store next.

Tentative Summer Releases:

I’ll get more into these releases as the dates approach:
    Red Hot Chili Peppers - Tenth studio album
    Nas - Tenth Studio Album
    Nas - The Lost Tapes Vol. 2
    Foo Fighters - Seventh Studio Album
    Joe Budden - The Great Escape

By Nick Carrabine

Monday, December 27, 2010

2010 Albums of the Year

 10.) My Chemical Romance - The True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys
    A bit of a disappointment considering I waited more than four years for this release after the band released two great albums but Killjoys is still one of the year’s better rock albums and there are a handful of standout tracks including “Na Na Na,” “The Only Hope For Me Is You,” “The Kids From Yesterday.” Best track: “Save Yourself, I’ll hold them back”

9.) Terrible Things - Terrible Things
    What I figured would be a throwaway album that I’d at least give a chance to listen to, I really ended up liking. Terrible Things is made up of former members of Taking Back Sunday, Coheed and Cambria and Hot Rod Circuit. Best track: “Been Here Before”

8.) Linkin Park - A Thousand Suns
    Released a great non-traditional, if not very risky, single in "The Catalyst" which sounds like a long extended six-minute introduction arena rock shouting anthem. Album clearly tries to be different and succeeds successfully but this album lacks replay value that their other albums demand. With that said, I wouldn’t call this their worst album, because artistically, it’s their best, Just not something you’ll want to listen to over and over but still a pretty good album nonetheless. Best track: “Waiting For The End”

7.) B.o.B. - Adventures of Bobby Ray
    A very surprisingly good debut from this Atlanta rapper who experiences with all different types of genres with top notch production. This album caught me totally off guard. He can rap, sing, play guitar, piano. Basically, he can do it all and it’s scary to think what his future albums will sound like. Best track: “Past My Shades”

6.) Jimmy Eat World - Invented
    Invented, the band’s seventh studio album, continues to showcase the consistency and strong story telling of Jimmy Eat World, who haven’t lost a step with age. I can’t say this enough about them, this band is as solid as they come. Best track: “Cut”

5.) Brandon Flowers - Flamingo (Deluxe Edition)
    The Killers’ frontman released a solid debut solo album which covers various genres from rock to country to folk. It took a little bit of warming up to due to the diversity throughout the record and how different it sounds from The Killers, but it proved to be one of the better albums released this year. It’s one of those albums where each week, you have a different favorite song. Best track: “Playing With Fire”

4.) Bad Books - Bad Books
    A collaboration album rarely seen in the rock genre combining Manchester Orchestra and Kevin Devine. Andy Hull and Kevin Devine’s chemistry is off the charts as they lay their vocals on top of each other in about half of the songs, singing solo over soft acoustic guitar on the other half. Best track: “You’re A Mirror I Cannot Avoid”

3.) Nas and Damian Marley - Distant Relatives
    A collaboration album that not only works but far exceeds any expectations it had coming with it. Nas and Marley show chemistry as if they had been working together for years as they talk about Africa, poverty and various other social issues that surround us all today. Best track: “Land of Promise.”

Most years, this probably would have been my favorite album of the year but then there was...

2.) Kanye West - My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy
    With already an impressive album catalogue, MBDTF is Kanye’s masterpiece. From the production to the lyrics to the guest appearances, the album is a unique musical journey that’s a look into the dark mind of Kanye as he battles his own twisted thoughts, his road to redemption and everything in between. Best track: "So Appalled"


1.) Eminem - Recovery
    No accents, no messing around, much different production, very dark, very honest, lots of sampling, far and away better than Encore and Relapse. Translation: His best work in more than eight years and was without a doubt the album of the year...that was until Kanye released MBDTF, which pretty much rivals Recovery but I’m giving the edge to Em. Best track: "Cold Wind Blows"

Nick Carrabine

Sunday, December 26, 2010

The Fockers return on top

The latest in the "Meet the Parents" series easily made it to the top of the weekend box office, despite being poorly reviewed. Did you make it to the movie theater over the holiday weekend?

From The Associated Press:
Estimated ticket sales for Friday through Sunday at U.S. and Canadian theaters, according to Final figures will be released Monday.
1. “Little Fockers,” $34 million. (Review from The AP's David Germain)
2. “True Grit,” $25.6 million. (Review from The AP's Christy Lemire)
3. “Tron: Legacy,” $20.1 million. (Review from The News-Herald's Mark Meszoros; "Picky Bridges picks 'Tron' sequel, working with Coens again" by Germain)
4. “The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader,” $10.8 million. (Review from The AP's Jake Coyle)
5. “Yogi Bear,” $8.8 million. (Review from Coyle)
6. “The Fighter,” $8.5 million. (Review from Germain)
7. “Gulliver’s Travels,” $7.2 million.
8. “Black Swan,” $6.6 million. (Review from Lemire)
9. “Tangled,” $6.5 million. (Review from Coyle)
10. “The Tourist,” $5.7 million. (Review from Lemire)

-- Cheryl Sadler

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Christmas countdown: Bonus!

On the first day of Quitness ...

-- Cheryl Sadler

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Saturday, December 25, 2010

Christmas countdown: 0

The best way to end this countdown is a clip from my favorite Christmas special. Merry Christmas!

-- Cheryl Sadler

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Friday, December 24, 2010

Christmas countdown: 1

I can't think of a better video clip than this for Christmas Eve.

-- Cheryl Sadler

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Thursday, December 23, 2010

Christmas Countdown: 2

You want a what for Christmas? You'll shoot your eye out, kid.

-- Cheryl Sadler

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Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Christmas countdown: 3

My favorite Christmas song.

-- Cheryl Sadler

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Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Christmas countdown: 4

Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus.

-- Cheryl Sadler

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Monday, December 20, 2010

Maybe less Christmas Ale next time I go to the movies

I'm still behind during this, the busiest time of the year for one such as myself who keeps up with well-received films, those that may be in line for an Oscar nomination or seven.

I can't say that the movie I saw Friday night -- date night with the girlfriend -- will be scoring any Oscar nods, but I did enjoy "The Tourist," which we saw at the Atlas theater adjacent to Great Lakes Mall. Starring Angelina Jolie and Johnny Depp, "The Tourist" is a fun, twisty thriller involving a woman who may be up to no good and a man who meets her, seemingly by chance, on a train in Europe.

While I did enjoy "The Tourist," I must cop to the fact that we saw it after a filling dinner at Smokey Bones in Mentor, at which I had a tall and a short Great Lakes Christmas Ale. Why is that important? Because as I age, it is becoming increasingly difficult to keep my eyes open after, say, 9 p.m. for two hours in a darkened room while staring at a lit screen. So there was a nod-off here, a brief drifting away there, but I think I got the gist of it. That said, when my better half told me what she truly happened in "The Tourist," I was clearly a step or two behind her. But I think she's right.

I would like to see the movie again sometime. I'm sure it will be clearer, but I also wonder if it will seem as smart when I'm wide-awake.

I was wide-awake for a movie the following afternoon, "Black Swan" at Cedar Lee Theatre in Cleveland Heights. There should be no snoozing during Darren Aronofsky's psychological near-masterpiece set in the world of professional ballet.

As Thomas, the ballet's artistic director, Vincent Cassel puts constant pressure on Natalie Portman's Nina -- and he may or may not be trying to seduce her.

Natalie Portman loses herself in the role of a star ballerina who gets the part she's been waiting for -- the Swan Queen in "Swan Lake" -- but the pressure begins to tear her apart. As the story unfolds and the pressure mounts, Portman's Nina hallucinates at an increasing rate, and the audience is left to wonder what's real and what isn't.

Although I grew a little tired of the hallucinations, the movie was an experience -- and it's hard to give a greater compliment when you see a lot of films. I definitely need to see it again, preferably after educating myself a bit on "Swan Lake." Look for Oscar nods galore for "Black Swan."

Anyway, if you see a guy catching a light nap and smelling a wee bit of Christmas ale in a theater near you anytime soon, give me a light tap to wake me up, won't you?

-- Mark Meszoros

Christmas countdown: 5

I'm dreaming of a white Christmas.

-- Cheryl Sadler

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Sunday, December 19, 2010

'Tron' returns to weekend box office on top

I saw the No. 5 movie this weekend in theaters, and I have some questions about it. I want to blog to get some feedback, but I don't know if I want to publish as many spoilers as I would need to in order to ask my questions.

The upcoming holiday weekend is generally busy at the box office. What movie are you planning to see?

From The Associated Press:
Estimated ticket sales for Friday through Sunday at U.S. and Canadian theaters, according to Final figures will be released Monday.
1. “Tron: Legacy,” $43.6 million. (Review from The News-Herald's Mark Meszoros; "Picky Bridges picks 'Tron' sequel, working with Coens again" by The AP's David Germain)
2. “Yogi Bear,” $16.7 million. (Review from The AP's Jake Coyle)
3. “The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader,” $12.4 million. (Review from Coyle)
4. “The Fighter,” $12.2 million. (Review from Germain)
5. “The Tourist,” $8.7 million. (Review from The AP's Christy Lemire)
6. “Tangled,” $8.68 million. (Review from Coyle)
7. “Black Swan,” $8.3 million. (Review from Lemire)
8. “How Do You Know,” $7.6 million. (Review from Lemire)
9. “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1,” $4.8 million. (review from Meszoros)
10. “Unstoppable,” $1.8 million. ("Newbury Township actor lands role in 'Unstoppable'" by Diane Ryder)

-- Cheryl Sadler

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Christmas countdown: 6

Santa is getting all of his reindeer in order, just as he did in "Miracle on 34th Street."

-- Cheryl Sadler

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Saturday, December 18, 2010

Christmas countdown: 7

Possibly the best non-traditional Christmas song ever:

-- Cheryl Sadler

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Friday, December 17, 2010

Christmas countdown: 8

The Christmas Eve tradition in my house for several years was to watch the Disney Christmas sing-along video tape. Thanks to the Internet, I've found some of those song clips to share with you today.

-- Cheryl Sadler

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Thursday, December 16, 2010

Christmas countdown: 9

By now I've shown you plenty of videos with Christmas lights synchronized to music. This is the last one, but it is the best one.

Brian and Bethany Burkhart of Mentor have put together a display called Light The Way to A Cure (online at The lights on their house are synchronized to music broadcast on 107.7 FM. The Burkharts are taking donations for the American Cancer Society. All money donated at their display (or via PayPal at the link above) will go to the American Cancer Society.

Their house is in the cul-de-sac on Graystone Lane in Whalers Cove off of Heisley Road.

See a sampling of the light show below:

-- Cheryl Sadler

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Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Christmas countdown: 10

Christmas is all around us ... so come on and let it snow.

-- Cheryl Sadler

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Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Golden Globe nominations announced

This morning, nominations for the 2011 Golden Globe nominations were announced and there were very few surprises.

Here is the list of nominees

Here is the categories that I’m interested in:

Best Motion Picture Drama:
I haven’t seen The Fighter yet but am salivating at the mouth to once it comes out on Friday. The Social Network, while a great movie, is a tad overrated. I haven’t had much desire to see either Black Swan or The King’s Speech but will most likely do so (although, probably not before awards season concludes) but far and away the best movie I saw this year was Inception as I saw it twice in the theaters. Add to it that Christopher Nolan is my favorite director, I hope this one takes it. P.S. Mom, if you're reading this, Santa better bring me Inception in Blu-Ray.

Best Performance by and Actor in a Motion Picture - Drama:
If anyone knows anything about me, they know I’m obsessed with Ryan Gosling. I haven’t seen Blue Valentine yet, but have been looking forward to it before they even started filming which was almost three years ago (the film was delayed for almost a year while Michelle Williams mourned the death of Heath Ledger.)

Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role - Drama:
I’ve always loved Christian Bale and look forward to seeing him in The Fighter and both Andrew Garfield and Jeremy Renner put on exceptional performances in The Social Network and The Town. I would assume Michael Douglas doesn’t stand a chance in this category for a movie that was panned by critics and I haven’t seen The King’s Speech but it’s getting the most award recognition so Geoffrey Rush may have a leg up on the competition.

Best Director - Motion Picture:
I think I’ve already somewhat answered this. Nolan, to me, is the best director of his generation.
 Best TV Series - Drama:
Considering Dexter may be my favorite show of all-time, I want this to win, but let’s be brutally frank here, as long as Mad Men is on the air, it’s going to win every year. I tried watching Boardwalk Empire for a few weeks and while not a bad show by any means, it just didn’t keep me coming back. I’ll probably catch up with it someday when I get bored.

Best Actor in a TV Series - Drama:
Again, I would hope it goes to Michael C. Hall, which it did last year, but I still have to believe Jon Hamm would be the front-runner. It’s somewhat laughable that Steve Buscemi is nominated. I like Buscemi a lot and think he’s a great actor, but he’s one of the main reasons I couldn’t really take Boardwalk Empire that serious.

Surprises: This is the first year that I can remember that Entourage wasn’t nominated for anything and True Grit, an upcoming film by the Coen Brothers with stars such as Matt Damon, Jeff Bridges and Josh Brolin was completely shut out. Many considered this to be a huge Oscar contender.

By Nick Carrabine

Christmas countdown: 11

"Elf" has several memorable moments, so today's Christmas countdown includes a compilation of them.

-- Cheryl Sadler

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Monday, December 13, 2010

Christmas countdown: 12

The number of days until Christmas is significant because of a well-known repetitive Christmas carol.

For a more tolerable take on it, check out Straight No Chaser's version:

-- Cheryl Sadler

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Sunday, December 12, 2010

The Chronic-WHAT-cles of Narnia

When I hear "The Chronicles of Narnia," I think of "Saturday Night Live"'s digital short "Lazy Sunday". (If you don't understand the title to this blog post, you should do yourself a favor and click that link for two and a half minutes of amusement.) But apparently I'm in the minority with that line of thought. The third installment in the "Narnia" series had a solid first-place finish in its box office debut.

From The Associated Press:
Estimated ticket sales for Friday through Sunday at U.S. and Canadian theaters, according to Final figures will be released Monday.
1. “The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader,” $24.5 million. (Review from The AP's Jake Coyle)
2. “The Tourist,” $17 million. (Review from The AP's Christy Lemire)
3. “Tangled,” $14.6 million. (Review from Coyle)
4. “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1,” $8.5 million. (review from The News-Herald's Mark Meszoros)
5. “Unstoppable,” $3.8 million. ("Newbury Township actor lands role in 'Unstoppable'" by Diane Ryder)
6. “Black Swan,” $3.3 million.
7. “Burlesque,” $3.2 million. (Review from Lemire)
8. “Love & Other Drugs,” $3 million. (Review from The AP's David Germain)
9. “Due Date,” $2.55 million. (Review from Meszoros)
10. “Megamind,” $2.5 million. (Review from Meszoros)

-- Cheryl Sadler

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Heather Morris as the new Buffy?

According to this link, Warner Bros. is slated to remake one of my favorite TV shows from my adolescence: "Buffy: The Vampire Slayer."

Sarah  Michelle Gellar
I used to LOVE this show. In fact, I re-watched the entire series a couple of summers ago while recovering from surgery. I also enjoyed the original movie, although much preferred Sarah Michelle Gellar's Buffy to the ditsy airhead from the flick.

Now, I was initially super stoked upon reading that there was a possible remake in the works. Well, maybe not "super stoked," but generally intrigued. I figured I would certainly enjoy watching it, although it would be really difficult to see another version of the story and not compare it to the series. However, having read that the remake may be made without Buffy director/creator Joss Whedon I feel absolutely depressed.

Those of you who may not be as familiar with Buffy may know Whedon from "Firefly," "Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog" or "Dollhouse." The man is amazing. He brings an entirely different creative perspective to his projects, and I haven't seen a thing of his that I did not like. That said, an updated take on Buffy could have been golden assuming he'd have some involvement. Alas--it appears as though he won't.

Heather Morris
The link above is saying Heather Morris of "Glee" fame is rumored to be slated for the title role. And while I'm a big Glee fan, and a huge Brittany/Morris fan, I absolutely do not see her rocking out as Buffy. Perhaps it's because I (unfortunately) cannot separate Morris from her character on Glee, but she does not strike me as the first choice to take over the role.

I could be entirely wrong. In fact, I hope I am. I think I would actually enjoy watching Morris attempt the part, and would certainly have a lot of respect for her if she nailed it.

Any other fans of Buffy out there? What do you think of the idea of a remake?

--Danielle Capriato


Christmas countdown: 13

I wish it was Christmas today. Horatio Sanz sings it better, though.

-- Cheryl Sadler

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Saturday, December 11, 2010

Christmas countdown: 14

When I was in college, I had a friend who liked to turn on the song "Sandstorm" and dance like crazy. I imagine that one day he will have a house decorated like this for Christmas (if this isn't his house).

-- Cheryl Sadler

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Friday, December 10, 2010

Christmas countdown: 15

Have you done your Christmas letter yet? If not, take some tips from the Simpsons.

-- Cheryl Sadler

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Thursday, December 9, 2010

Christmas countdown: 16

Have you gotten your Griswold-style family Christmas tree yet?

-- Cheryl Sadler

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Wednesday, December 8, 2010

A match made in TV heaven

I don't watch much TV--mostly because I work nights and am one of the last few people left on Earth without DVR--but lately, I have been watching a lot of new-to-me shows on Bravo.

My first new guilty pleasure is definitely Millionaire Matchmaker. The show features experienced third-generation matchmaker Patti Stanger, founder of the Millionaire's Club. She said she started this dating website to cater to the growing need of wealthy men who did not have time to date traditionally. She and her staff take a very personal approach to matches through the club, going so far as to hire hypnotherapists, body language experts, dancing instructors and other such experts to help members achieve their top potential in order to snag the men or women of their dreams.

On the show, Patti and her staff--COO Destin Pfaff and VP of Matching Rachel Federoff--meet with millionaires and millionairesses, cast their potential dates, send them to mixers and wait for magic to happen. There are strict rules these love-birds must follow, including a two-drink maximum, and she checks in with both parties after dates to see how they went. Also, Patti is very tough, has a strong attitude and her take-charge demeanor rules the show. In fact, she often critiques potential dates' choices in fashion--and even told one girl to get her hair done professionally and use Crest whitestrips before she'd allow her to meet any of the millionaires.

Now, I never really got into many reality shows, but this one is absolutely fantastic. While one may think these poor millionaires have a hard time dating because they are so dedicated to their work, that is definitely not always the case.

The clients are MESSED UP.

While some of the clients are messed up in a normal sort of way (such as the nerdy guy with ADD, or the chubby and insecure guy), others are single for very obvious reasons that no amount of money could possibly fix.

Example: One guy was so involved in his bromance with his buddies, he had to bring them along--and then he proceeded to get totally drunk in front of his date (who didn't drink at all) and give her a sloppy, drunken kiss.

Needless to say, Patti unceremoniously kicked him out of the Millionaire's Club.

In the same episode, Patti tried to set up a man who declared his hatred for people in general in front of his date.

Basically, the show is a little window into the supposedly fabulous romantic lives of rich people. I imagine it's gotten popular among many women who dream of meeting a charming millionaire; watching the show, anybody can see how these millionaire men and women are just as weird and insecure as the rest of us.

So, if you're bored sometime, I highly recommend this show for a little mindless entertainment.

Check out the show's official page at Bravo for more (and to watch episodes!).

--Danielle Capriato

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T.I. No Mercy

“Everyone thinks that I have it all
But it’s so empty living behind these castle walls
If I should tumble if I should fall
Would any one hear me screaming behind these castle walls
There’s no-one here at all, behind these castle walls
Observing the estate through the gate from the outside looking in
Bet you would think I got it made, better look again
I got a butler, got a maid, and a mansion
The belief is that I’m living out a millionaires fantasy
With phantoms and ferraris in the driveway
But you see the pain and the change of the same man’s sanity
Your vision jaded by the Grammys on the mantelpiece
Just switch your camera lenses you would see the agony”

-”Castle Walls”

T.I. is a complicated man.

On the day his seventh studio album was released, Dec. 7, T.I. was sitting behind bars. The same bars he was sitting behind months after his last release, Paper Trail in September of 2008.

The 30-year-old rapper originally went to prison for one year in March of 2009 on federal weapons charges.

With a prison sentence looming, Paper Trail was a brutally honest look into T.I.’s life decisions, his problems, his regrets and his anticipation for redemption as he begged fans for a second chance. It was the second best release of his career.

Upon his release from prison earlier this year, he announced his seventh album would be titled King Uncaged and vowed it would be a redemption album, a celebratory album of life and the blessing to be free.

That was of course until he was arrested again in September on drug charges, which violated his probation and the rapper was again sentenced to 11 more months in prison in November.

King Uncaged’s title was changed to No Mercy but he might as well called it Paper Trail II, because it feels like I’m essentially listening to the same album, the same message and the same promises.

Only Paper Trail was a lot better.

It’s somewhat hard to take the rapper serious now with the whole “I know I’m wrong, I apologize,” act again for the second straight release.

T.I. has been one of the best-selling, most popular rappers of the past decade with some solid releases (Trap Muzik, Urban Legend, Paper Trail) and some very inconsistent to below average releases (I’m Serious, King, T.I. vs. T.I.P.)

No Mercy falls in the middle of those but at this point of T.I.’s career, he should be more focused on getting his life together rather than releasing sub-par material.

Despite his legal troubles, T.I. actually seems like a good guy. He’s very active in communities, he had a reality show on MTV where he took underprivileged kids who were involved with drugs or gangs and showed them what the possible outcome of their lifestyles would come to if they didn’t stop and two months ago, he convinced a suicidal person from jumping off a 22-story building in Atlanta after he drove to the scene after hearing news reports on the radio. So, he does care about people.

As T.I. says on the lead single “Get Back Up:”

“My good outweigh the bad
God, ain’t that what really matters?

A matter of fact I’m wrong but after all the good i’ve done in your hood should it overshadow that?”

No Mercy does have some solid songs on it including the opening track “Welcome to the World,” which features Kanye West, “That’s All She Wrote,” featuring Eminem, “Amazing,” featuring Pharrell and probably the best track on the album, “Castle Walls,” featuring Christina Aguilera.

And if you’re noticing a trend here, it’s that there are a lot of guest appearances and on all those tracks, T.I. is outshined by his guest.

Perhaps this time around, a prison sentence looming on T.I.’s conscience caught up to him and No Mercy just doesn’t have the honesty or the genuine feelings and heart that Paper Trail had.

-Nick Carrabine

Christmas countdown: 17

The Grinch made a special appearance in Fairport Harbor again this year to read his story from the top of the lighthouse.

-- Cheryl Sadler

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Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Sly Stallone crosses over and kudos to the boxing hall of fame

By Mark Podolski

Sorry Gene Hackman, the actor who portrayed Norman Dale in "Hoosiers." You'll never be inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame.

Same goes for Dennis Quaid ("The Rookie"), Sean Astin ("Rudy"), Robert Redford ("The Natural") and others.

Only one actor deserves a crossover from pop culture icon to pro sports hall of famer: the one and only Sylvester Stallone.

On Tuesday, Stallone was announced as an inductee into the International Boxing Hall of Fame and Museum for his work on the big screen as Rocky Balboa. He was awarded the "Lifetime Cinematic Achievement in Boxing Award."

What an honor, and deservedly so. The Rocky character is arguably more popular than his real-life counterpart that's also part of this hall of fame class, that being Iron Mike Tyson.

It all started in 1976, when "Rocky" won the Oscar for best picture and spawned five sequels, including the last, 2006's "Rocky Balboa."

Why do we love the Rocky movies? The music, the character, but mostly because he inspires and allows us to believe. The boxing hall of fame should be commended for Stallone's inclusion.

When you think of boxing, you think of Rocky. Yeah, and that song. So here you go.

Christmas countdown: 18

Today we're taking a break from the Christmas countdown to share the spirit of Hanukkah, throwing latkes in the air and spinning dreidels.

-- Cheryl Sadler

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Monday, December 6, 2010

Well worth a couple of 'Hours'

Been too busy to be at the movies as much as I would like lately, but I carved out a little time on Saturday to shoot out to the big theater in Valley View to see "127 Hours," based on the true story of Aron Ralston, a mountain climber who found himself trapped by a large rock in a canyon.

I'm generally not a big fan of James Franco -- he tends to have this empty quality on screen to me -- but he's quite good as Ralston. Considering that for most of the movie he has no one to interact with -- not even a volleyball -- Franco really does a nice job in keeping you invested in the character. He portrays Ralston as a likable if somewhat selfish fellow -- he doesn't call his mom enough, does what he likes most of the time, etc. -- who believes he is going to die but continues to work on ways to free his right arm from between a big rock and a hard place. (The movie is based on Ralston's autobiography, "Between a Rock and a Hard Place.")

Also quite worthy of praise is director Danny Boyle ("Slumdog Millionaire"). He offers a clinic in claustrophobic filmmaking, keeping the camera tight on Franco most of the time he's trapped. To break up the monotony, Boyle uses flashbacks and hallucinations to shed light on Ralston's psyche. It's all very well done.

SPOILER ALERT/CONTENT WARNING: Don't read on if you don't want to know how things end for Ralston. However, if you've not yet heard about this movie, you might want to know that the manner in which he is able to free himself is quite gruesome and, reportedly, has caused some folks to become ill in the theater. (I didn't get sick, but I may have turned my head a bit and watched out of the corner of my eye.)

"127 Hours," rated R and running 1 hour, 35 minutes, is also playing at Cedar Lee Theatre in Cleveland Heights. Hopefully this movie will go wider as it marches through Hollywood's awards season.

-- Mark Meszoros

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Christmas countdown: 19

Not all fancy Christmas light displays are bright enough for you to get a tan. Some of them are just really creative and well executed.

-- Cheryl Sadler

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Sunday, December 5, 2010

Live action Wile E. Coyote and Road Runner

If you grew up a fan of Looney Tunes, check out this live-action remake of two of the greats:

-- Cheryl Sadler

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Weekend box office goes to 'Tangled'

Disney's new animated movie "Tangled" topped "Harry Potter" at the box office in the first weekend of its release, but "Harry Potter" was a somewhat close second and far surpassed the weekend's third-place movies.

From The Associated Press:
Estimated ticket sales for Friday through Sunday at U.S. and Canadian theaters, according to Final figures will be released Monday.
1. “Tangled,” $21.5 million. (Review from The AP's Jake Coyle)
2. “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1,” $16.7 million. (review from The News-Herald's Mark Meszoros)
3 (tie). “Burlesque,” $6.1 million. (Review from The AP's Christy Lemire)
3 (tie). “Unstoppable,” $6.1 million. ("Newbury Township actor lands role in 'Unstoppable'" by Diane Ryder)
5. “Love & Other Drugs,” $5.7 million. (Review from The AP's David Germain)
6. “Megamind,” $5 million. (Review from Meszoros)
7. “Due Date,” $4.2 million. (Review from Meszoros)
8. “Faster,” $3.8 million. (Review from Coyle)
9. “The Warrior’s Way,” $3.1 million.
10. “The Next Three Days,” $2.7 million. (Review from Lemire)

-- Cheryl Sadler

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Christmas countdown: 20

Muppet Christmas Carol Gag Reel.

There is nothing I can say about this that will be better than that description.

-- Cheryl Sadler

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Saturday, December 4, 2010

Christmas countdown: 21

We've all seen the classic Christmas special "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer." But have you seen Destiny's Child's twist on it?

-- Cheryl Sadler

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Friday, December 3, 2010

Christmas countdown: 22

Kevin McCallister was a pretty amazing prankster for a 10-year-old.

-- Cheryl Sadler

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Thursday, December 2, 2010

Christmas countdown: 23

No matter what holiday you celebrate, Straight No Chaser wants to make sure you can-can enjoy it.

-- Cheryl Sadler

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Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Christmas countdown: 24

We're into the month of December now, and only 24 shopping days left into the Christmas. Have you hung your lights yet? Or synchronized them to a dance song?

-- Cheryl Sadler

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