Missouri Woman Disappears, Ben Affleck Lead Suspect In Investigation.

Intense | Disturbing | Incredible 

Gone Girl

Gone Girl

Release Date: Friday October 3, 2014

Runtime: 149 Minutes

MPAA Rating: Rated R for a scene of bloody violence, some strong sexual content/nudity, and language.

Cast: Ben Affleck, Rosamund Pike, Neil Patrick Harris

Gone Girl Movie

There are many things that go into a making a great movie. The usual elements that we measure include the cast, performances, plot, direction, score, etc. However, if a movie hits on most or all of these points, but is ultimately forgettable, it cannot be considered great. That brings us to “Gone Girl”, a new release by director David Fincher (“Se7en”, “Fight Club”) and Ben Affleck (“The Town”, “Argo”). It has been several days since I’ve seen this film, and I am still floored. It grabs you in the opening minutes and does not let go.

With some movies it is important to go in with no expectations, and this is one of those movies. With that said, this is going to be a spoiler-free review. This is a powerful movie that you should experience for yourself.

Without giving too much away, I will say that the performances of both Ben Affleck and Rosamund Pike were amazing. The story follows dual narrative perspectives and each narrative calls for a different type of performance from the leads. In a sense, both actors are playing two different characters each of which fits into the other player’s narrative as well as their own. It’s not an easy task and they absolutely nail it.

David Fincher’s direction brings its characteristic attention to detail and visual flair. He maintained tension throughout and kept me fully engaged. By the end, the entire audience was left punch-drunk from emotional journey they had just endured. If “Gone Girl” walks away next year with awards (and it certainly might) it will be partly because voters were unable to stop thinking about it

On the It’s An Ordinary Blog movie review scale from one to ten where 1 is the worst, 5 is the best and 10 is the worst again, I give “Gone Girl” a 5.13498309483098 with an emoticon based sub-ranking of “Wow. SHOCKER.”

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Denzel Washington Takes On Russian Mafia Inside Home Improvement Store: Wins.

The Equalizer

I guess it’s true what they say in that you never really do know who’s working at your local Home Depot home improvement store and that’s the whole premise (just kidding, it’s not) of “The Equalizer”, which hit theaters nationwide this weekend. The movie stars Denzel Washington (master of badassery) so I’m really not too worried about spoilers (we all know he’s a winner, both in real life and in his movies) but if you are, I would encourage you to skip on down to the very bottom of this post (just past the last picture). You’re welcome.

The Equalizer

Release Date: Friday September 26th, 2014

Total Running Time: 131 Minutes

MPAA Rating: Rated “R” for strong bloody violence and language throughout, including some sexual references

Cast: Denzel Washington, Chloë Grace Moretz, David Harbour, Marton Csokas

The Equalizer

“…The old man’s gotta be the old man – the fish gotta be the fish – you’ve gotta be what you are in this world…”

Robert McCall is a mysterious and meticulous man living a seemingly ordinary life in Boston. His days are spent working at his local Home Depot home improvement store (If it looks like a duck and quacks like a duck, it’s probably Home Depot, but it seems like maybe they didn’t want to pony up the dough for brand placement in the movie, so let’s just call it “Home Mart”). McCall doesn’t sleep much so his nights are spent reading his way through 100 books at Bridge Diner but, like any good movie, everything is not as it seems.

Bridge Diner

It’s at Bridge Diner where Robert befriends Teri (Chloë Grace Moretz), a young girl who is involved in a human trafficking ring.

{Human trafficking is a very real and very serious issue. For more information, please visit: http://www.humantrafficking.org/combat_trafficking} 

The-Equalizer-First-Trailer

“The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why.”

After discovering Teri’s involvement in a Russian human trafficking ring, McCall decides to do something about it and “The Equalizer” is born. In an epic moment of vigilantism, The Equalizer unwittingly opens Pandora’s Box and takes on the entire (East Coast) Russian mafia throughout the remainder of the film. The Equalizer, in true Denzel Washington form, kicks a lot of butt and says some great things like: “When you pray for rain you gotta deal with the mud, too.”

The Equalizer, in all his glory, is nothing short of amazing. He’s the guy you want on your side if anything goes wrong and I promise, you’ll never look at a sledgehammer or a nail gun in the same way again. The final battle scene (it was a battle, okay?!) was so epic is had me questioning my post apocalyptic plans to live inside Costco (I’m now thinking Home Depot Home Mart might be a more viable option).

NoSpoilers

“The Equalizer” is an action packed ride that really does keep you on the edge of your seat throughout the film (even with an ending you can see coming – – that’s not a spoiler!). It’s got cheese, like any good vigilante action film, but it’s the kind of cheese you can thoroughly enjoy (at least I did).  Like Gouda.

Overall on the It’s An Ordinary Blog movie review scale from one to ten where one is the worst, five is the best, and ten is the worst again: I give “The Equalizer” a 4.3439839581 with an emoticon based sub-ranking of “Great! Now I’m going to question the background of every single person working inside Home Depot Home Mart. Are you REALLY here to sell me lumber or are you a former secret agent?!”

 

 

So What Exactly Happens When A Highly Dysfunctional Family Spends 7 Days Together?

“This Is Where I Leave You”


We’ve all been there…The moment you find yourself in the middle of a family function and you think to yourself: “My god, we’re dysfunctional” (Oh wait, that’s just me?!). In case you’ve ever wondered what happens when a group of highly dysfunctional, yet incredibly loving (in their own right) members of one family get together, you’ve finally got a chance to find out. “This Is Where I Leave You”.

"This Is Where I Leave You" Movie Review

Release Date: Friday September 19th, 2014

Total Screen Time: 103  Minutes

MPAA Rating: Rated R

After the death of their father, the Altman siblings (Judd, played by Jason Bateman; Wendy, played by Tina Fey; Phillip, played by Adam Driver; and Paul, played by Corey Stall) are forced to come together for the first time in years.  At the behest of their overly-involved mother (played by none other than Jane Fonda), the foursome discover that they must set aside their personal problems and their differences to spend an entire week mourning the loss of their beloved Dad. Together.

“This Is Where I Leave You” attracts audiences with its cast of really great, incredible players like Jason Bateman (“Arrested Development”), Rose Byrne (“Neighbors”), Connie Britton (“Friday Night Lights”, “Nashville”), Dax Shepard (“Parenthood”), Tina Fey (“30 Rock”, “SNL”), and Jane Fonda (“9 To 5”) but what moviegoers will ultimately love best is the hilarity that ensues when this family gets together.

Within the first five minutes or so of “This Is Where I Leave You”, audiences are introduced to some fairly deep and heavy material from infidelity to infertility but, somehow, the film never seems to feel depressing or gloomy. It becomes fairly obvious that the death of the Altman’s paterfamilias is really the least of their problems. It’s truly something special when a writer (and director) can create a film that covers such serious topics with such levity that it’s consistently funny throughout.

On the It’s An Ordinary Blog movie review scale from 1-10 where one is the worst, five is the best, and ten is the best again, I give “This Is Where I Leave You” a glowing 9.873487187 with an emoticon based sub-ranking of “It feels so wrong to laugh this hard. But it’s right.”

Adventures In Atlanta: Part 1 (World Of Coca-Cola)

Coca-Cola World (It's An Ordinary Blog)

Happy Thursday, Everyone!

After what seems like a whirlwind of a week, I’ve finally landed in Atlanta for my first ever blog conference and even though the party doesn’t officially start until tomorrow, my internet turned in real life friends Sarah from The House Of Boys & A Girl and Heidi from The Pajama Mama and I wanted to spend some time doing something fun today. So, naturally, we went to The World Of Coca-Cola in downtown Atlanta.

Located across from the Aquarium here in Atlanta, The World of Coca-Cola is just a hop, skip, and a jump from the hotel I’m staying at for the duration of the week. In other news, it’s an easy ride on the Marta to get there (the way back is an entirely different story which will have it’s very own dedicated post- stay tuned!) and it was well worth the adventure.

In an effort to keep this post short (and because, honestly, I’m feeling kind of tired and lazy), I’ll just share the pictures from our visit today. If you’re in the area, I highly recommend visiting. We saved up our reward points from all of the Diet Coke we drink (because I’m an addict) and it paid for our admission today but I’d happily pay the entrance fee any day. As an added bonus, at the end of your tour, you can drink all of the carbonated beverages from around the World that you want (as long as Coca-Cola manufactures them).

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The staff at World of Coca-Cola were absolutely INCREDIBLE and their hospitality really put the experience over the top. Special thanks to our new friend Noland who was working at the vault (where the secret recipe for Coke is located) for his time and attention today. He came up to chat with us while we were hanging out and we shared some laughs. I kind of wish every business had at least one Noland on staff- he was great.

I’ll leave you with this: When you go, make sure you watch the “Moments Of Happiness” video. It’s something I’m told will be public at some point in the future but, for now, you can ONLY watch it at World of Coca-Cola. I had all of the (good) feels. It was great.

With that, I bid you adieu. Until tomorrow, goodnight.

Design A Sock Contest From Sock It To Me!

SockItToMe

Happy Weekend, Everyone!

It’s Friday, the sun is shining, my neighbor mowed his lawn (praise you eight pound, six ounce baby Jesus), and I’ve got an awesome contest to share with you today! Are you excited yet?! Fun fact Friday (it’s a thing, that I just made up): I kind of, sort of, really really love a good pair of funky socks. No joke, I really do. It’s odd because my style (or lack there of, I need help) is generally fairly plain. Underneath my jeans and cardigans is usually a really cool, amazing pair of socks.

DesignASockContest

I think that’s part of what I was so excited to hear that my friends over at Sock It To Me are celebrating their 10th anniversary this month!

To get the party started, Sock It To Me is hosting a contest for the next three weeks where they’ll be accepting entries for a design your own SOCK contest. You read that right, you can design a sock for thousands of people to wear and enjoy for years and years to come. Incredible, right?!

The contest begins TODAY (Friday September 5th, 2014) and runs through the 26th of this month. Prizes include:

  • The Grand Prize Winner will get a cash prize of $5000, their design manufactured on real socks, and 15 pairs of awesome Sock It to Me socks from our current line!
  • A second place winner will receive $1000 and 10 pairs of socks.
  • Third place winner will get $500 and 5 pairs of socks.

More information, including a downloadable entry form, can be found on the Sock It To Me website.

Good luck, I can’t wait to see who wins! 

 

Let’s Chat About Lemurs

Island Of Lemurs Madagascar

They say that a picture is worth a thousand words…

When I look at pictures of one of my absolute favorite animals on Earth (I’ll give you a hint, it’s the Lemur) a few words come to mind:

Amazing | Fascinating | Incredible | Adorable

Island Of Lemurs

Happy Sunday, Folks!

After a crazy, busy week I was beyond ready to settle in and enjoy the weekend with my loving family. On the docket was some much needed poolside R&R, a fun Saturday night with great friends, and an afternoon with some Lemurs in Madagascar (note the lack of chores included on my list, looks like I’ve got some catching up to do). That’s right, I said “…an afternoon with some Lemurs in Madagascar”.

Now although I didn’t actually have the time or the resources (hello expensive plane tickets) to physically travel to the island of Madagascar, I was able to experience it through the lense of IMAX 3-D, which came in at a close just kidding second best.  A few of the AMC theaters in our area are playing the 40 minute documentary highlighting these fascinating creatures called “Island of Lemurs: Madagascar” right now and it’s a pretty neat and educational experience for families. Check out the trailer:

The film, which follows the story of Dr. Patricia Wright, a scientist who has made it her life’s mission to help these unique and amazing Lemurs survive, is narrated by none other than Morgan Freeman himself. “Island Of Lemurs: Madagascar” captivates audiences and aims to gently remind everyone of the impact we have on the creatures of the World. You see, Lemurs are the oldest living primate still in existence today. Dating back nearly 60 million years, Lemurs have survived a myriad of worldly events including the collapse of the dinosaurs and the evolution of the human species. As incredible as their story is, these amazing animals are facing the possibility of extinction…and that’s pretty sad.

Island Of Lemurs

Now, I’ll admit that I am the type of person that’s into documentaries but I think “Island Of Lemurs: Madagascar” is a great resource for caregivers and educators who are looking for something to help teach young children about one of the oldest living creatures known to man.

Island-of-Lemurs-logo

The journey this film takes you on is both beautiful and extraordinary. It gave me a greater appreciation and deeper respect for an animal that I already adored. So check it out at an IMAX theater near you.

Island Of Lemurs

“If I Stay”: A Movie In Review

If I Stay (2014) Poster

Release Date: Friday August 22nd, 2014

Run time: 106 minutes

Starring: Chloe Grace Moretz

MPAA Rating: Rated PG-13 for thematic elements and some sexual material.

In “If I Stay”, Mia Hall (Chloe Grace Moretz) is a smart and talented teenager whose life changes in an instant. After she and her family are in a head on collision, she is left in a coma and has an out of body experience. Her family did not survive the crash and she must decide if she stay with her boyfriend and grandparents or move on and be with her family.

I do not always watch the trailers for movies before I watch them. I did happen to catch the trailer for “If I Stay” and I will admit that I cried. Yes, I cried during a trailer. Stop judging me. So, going into the real movie I was preparing myself to shed all of the tears.  The problem is, the movie is paced so slowly, that I found myself looking at my watch more often than looking for tissues.

A sign of a really good movie is that two or three hours can go by in the blink of an eye. “If I Stay”, by hyped wide release movie standards, has a relative short run time at 106 minutes but it crawls by. Chloe Grace Moretz gives it her all in a strong performance, but it was not enough to make up for a lackluster script and thin story.

On my scale of 1 to 10 with 1 being the worst, 5 being the best, and 10 being the worst again, I give “If I Stay” a 9.1 with an emoticon based sub-ranking of: simultaneously yawning and sobbing.

Wellness Wednesdays: Let’s Chat About Gardening!

Ark Garden Seeds

Hello & Happy Wednesday, Everyone!  If you’re new here, welcome!  Allow me to introduce you to my Wellness Wednesday series.  Each week, I spend a few minutes chatting about something I’m doing to improve my overall health and wellness.  So far this summer I’ve covered a variety of topics from skincare to nutrition supplements.  One thing I haven’t touched on yet is the importance of eating whole, natural, real foods.

Garden

A couple of years ago, after the birth of my daughter, I started to research what was in the foods that we were eating.  As she transitioned from a newborn to an older infant (especially when she transitioned from breast milk to solids), I knew I wanted to provide her with the best, most nutrient rich foods that I could.  My goal was (and is) to start her on a healthy diet so she doesn’t have to learn how to eat better as an adult (it’s hard, trust me!).

Garden

Part of my goal to provide healthy, natural foods for my family included the desire to start my own garden with fresh vegetables and herbs but, until this year, I’ve never really gotten my feet wet with that particular part of living a more organic lifestyle. My love for sustainability, my desire to raise my daughter with an appreciation for home grown foods, and a yearning to try something new led me to plant my own garden in 2014 instead of waiting until I was “more ready” to dive in.

Garden

I started out small, growing several of my plants in pots on my deck (I’m absolutely terrified of even the remote possibility of snakes in the yard) and I’m really happy with how well they’ve done so far this year.

Garden

I started several of my plants from seeds (lettuce, summer squash, spinach, catnip, basil, cilantro, tomatoes, and a couple of other plants) and purchased a few starter plants (green peppers, jalapenos, and a supplemental tomato plant). Much to my surprise, most of my plants have done really well with the exception of a few that stopped producing once the Summer heat settled in.

Garden

Even though my little garden hasn’t produced enough home grown goodness to supply my family of three with all of our produce for the season, I’m really happy with how much I’ve accomplished.  As a novice gardener, I wasn’t expecting my plants to do as well as they did on my first attempt. Needless to say, gardening exceeded my expectations and I discovered that I actually (really, really) enjoy spending time tending to my plants.  If I can grow vegetables, herbs, and flowers in pots on my back deck, so can you.  I truly believe that anyone with a little outdoor space can grow their own food.  Gardening is such an incredible experience.  It provides me with an appreciation for this planet and the amazing power of nature.  There’s something truly magical about creating your own food and I can’t wait to grow my garden again next year.

Garden

I am excited to have a starter kit for my 2015 garden provided by my friends over at Ark. They provide 100% USA, heirloom vegetable garden seeds in 30 varieties with over 7500 high quality seeds. Their seeds are non-hybrid, non GMO, organic and come with a lifetime guarantee.  Ark is a company that I personally use and am happy to provide them with my heartfelt endorsement for anyone looking to grow their own food.  You can find more information about Ark and their products by visiting their Amazon listing.

Join Me For Rugged Maniac 2014 (Discount & Giveaway Inside!)

For over a year now, it’s been a goal of mine to complete a 5k obstacle course (mud run) so for my birthday last year, I asked for an entry into this year’s Rugged Maniac in Kansas City. I was elated to discover a note from my husband in my birthday card telling me that I would be participating in the event in 2014. Fast forward several months and we’re rapidly approaching go time! Even though I’m no where near “ready” (athletically speaking) for the race, I’m still going to get out there and enjoy the afternoon. With great friends (and amazing readers) to complete it with, I’m sure it’ll be a blast.

Rugged Maniac

I’m so excited to participate that I wanted to invite ALL of YOU to join me in the fun and my friends over at Rugged Maniac want to offer It’s An Ordinary Blog readers a generous 25% discount when you sign up this week! In addition, they’ve provided me with two FREE Rugged Maniac race entries to giveaway to a couple of very lucky readers so you can join me in the fun!

Rugged ManiacYour 2014 Rugged Maniac race entry includes:

  • The opportunity to hang out with me for a couple of hours, let’s get dirty together!
  • 25 FUN obstacles including a massive 50′ slide, underground tunnels, and fire.
  • An Awesome Rugged Maniac Shirt
  • Professional Race Photos
  • A Beer (Ages 21+)
  • The opportunity to have a near death experience (just kidding!).

Rugged Maniac

Online registration for this event closes one week from today and the race is scheduled for Saturday August 9th, 2014 at the Snow Creek Ski Area in Weston, MO. In order to take advantage of the 25% discount offered exclusively to It’s An Ordinary Blog readers, simply enter the code: OrdinaryBlog14 at checkout.

Rugged Maniac

TWO lucky readers will be joining me for FREE! To enter, leave a comment on this blog post telling me what obstacle you’re most excited about. You can earn an additional entry by heading over to the It’s An Ordinary Blog Facebook page and commenting on my Rugged Maniac post! I will randomly draw two winners on Thursday morning at 10:00am CST. As always, good luck and may the odds be ever in your favor!

Rugged Maniac

Rugged Maniac Kansas City

Saturday August 9th, 2014

Sign Up Today By Visiting The Rugged Maniac Website

 

I Speak Italian (Sort Of) & So Can You!

Hello, friends! Take a look at that stunning image from a lake town in Italy.  I imagine the people who inhabit that beautiful place are friendly.  I imagine that the cobblestone streets are lined with small shops and that people sit outside of cafes, chatting about life while enjoying the company of their loved ones.  I imagine all of these things because I have never  actually been to Italy (at least not from what I remember).  In the late 1980’s, my family was stationed in Germany for a few years and we had the opportunity to travel throughout several countries in Europe but, since I was still a toddler, I don’t have many memories of our time living overseas.  The travel bug has bitten me and the only cure for it is more cowbell to either hop on a plane and go somewhere new or take some time learning about a culture from afar (with the hope of one day visiting).  For now, my only option is the latter.  From the rich history to the vibrant culture, I love all things Italy.

About a month ago, I was given the opportunity to learn something new. I was given the gift of learning the Italian language.  I will be the first to tell you that I was both excited and nervous about the prospect of learning Italian.  Having studied other languages in the past (Spanish, French, and Arabic), I am no stranger to the amount of difficulty associated with learning and the commitment it takes to become fluent in a language that’s different from your own.  While some may think I have an affinity for learning languages (trust me, I don’t), I wasn’t as confident in my own abilities.  Then I popped in my first Pimsleur Approach Italian I CD and I really felt confident that I could do it.  “Dear Universe,” I said, “challenge ACCEPTED!”

Pimsleur Approach Italian 1

Learning with the Pimsleur Approach has been an absolute breeze. The CDs, which total over 16 hours of learning, guide you through conversational Italian.  When you begin each section, you’ll spend a minute listening to a conversation (the dialogue increases in difficulty the deeper you are into the lessons).  Afterwards, the conversation is broken down for you part by part in a listen and repeat style manner which is easy to understand and allows just about anyone to quickly pick up the language (my three year old daughter repeats some of the words and it’s adorable).

I’m only about three weeks into my lessons but I already feel confident enough to at least introduce myself to an Italian speaker as an English speaker and to let them know that I don’t speak Italian very well.  My plan is to share my progress with all of you as I continue on through this first set of CDs so feel free to follow along with me (and keep me accountable for learning).  If you’d like to join in (it’s not too late!) and learn Italian with me, you can find more information about the Pimsleur Approach on Amazon.  I would like (and plan) to continue on through their more advanced language learning CDs and, hopefully, reward myself with a trip to Italy someday where I’ll feel confident having a conversation with a native Italian all thanks to the Pimsleur Approach.

Disclosure: I was given a generous discount on my Italian language CDs in exchange for using the Pimsleur Approach and discussing my experience on It’s An Ordinary Blog. All expressed opinions are uniquely my own and I wholeheartedly endorse their approach for my readers who are looking to learn Italian. Please feel free to connect with me any time if you have questions about this review.