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Friday, December 18, 2015

The Good Dinosaur

      What would have happened to life on planet Earth if the meteor completely missed the earth and dinosaurs continued to rule the world?  The Good Dinosaur attempts to answer that question.

     Brontosaurus would become farmers; planting, tilling, watering, and harvesting their crops.  They'd build and live in barn like structures, raise their children, and live quiet peaceful lives.  No surprises there, brontosaurus were plant eaters, peaceful creatures that lived in groups. This is how the movie begins.  There's a little bit of a Flintstones twist to the story as the brontosaurus family adapt the environment to their needs.

     Stegosaurus makes an appearance in the movie as a frightful looking creature who does his best to camouflage himself and stay safe with the help of his friends who hang out on his many horns.  I'd always heard that stegosaurus was a fierce creature but not in this movie.  Stegosaurus introduces his friends to Arlo, the good dinosaur, and tells Arlo what they do to help him.  All except for Debbie, the redbird, who seems to have no purpose except to look pretty.  At one point she flies away and stegosaurus goes chasing after her.

     My favorite dinosaurs of the movie were the family of Tyrannosaurus Rex.  These dinosaurs were said to be fierce and dangerous.  And they were in the movie, too.  They were also a cowboy family running a herd of longhorns that appeared to be Wooly Mammoths.

     At this point the world has turned upside down.  Nothing is what it appears to be.  Then there is the boy named Spot, a quest to return home, what makes a family and how important it is to do what you think is right, to help a friend even when your scared, and to be a good dinosaur.

     Adults and children will enjoy this movie equally.  It's full of action and adventure.  This movie will hold your interest throughout the film.  There was only one place in the movie that I was a bit shocked by and that was when Arlo and Spot came across some berries on the ground that had fermented and there was some brief scenes of being on a psychedelic high.  The 6 year old that was with me didn't seem to pick up on it, but it shocked me that it was in a Disney film.

     If you need a family activity to do over the Christmas holidays, be sure to check this movie out.  It's great and will bring a tear to the eye of adults and children alike.


Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Big Bad Voodoo Daddy

     The lights blinked three times and the crowd drifted from the concession area to their seats.  As the house lights went down, nine dapper gentlemen in vintage suits and hats, took to the stage.  Everyone held their breath, and then . . .it began.

     An explosion of music and sound that had everyone rocking in their seats.  The evening started off with the song: Rockabilly Christmas which was quickly turned into a medley of Christmas standards.  It included Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer played on saxophone, Santa Claus is Coming to Town, and The Night Before Christmas. This wasn't your standard songs, BBVD put their own spin on all of them and worked their band name into the lyrics.

     Then we heard the entire song Santa Claus is Coming To Town, on the trumpet, which was amazing.  The amount of air that had to be produced to get such overwhelming sound to come out of that small brass instrument was phenomenal.  I wondered how the musician had the strength to walk back to his position on the stage after that performance.  Then we heard Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer in its entirety complete with bells. And it only got better from there, if that's possible.

     Walking into The Orpheum Theatre in Wichita is such a treat.  It's a lovely old theatre,  The neon sign out front is a wonderful welcome, along with the lobby and concession area, simply beautiful.  Once you enter the theatre it's clear this is a work in progress.  But what a great venue to see a class act like Big Bad Voodoo Daddy in their vintage apparel rocking the stage. 


Monday, December 14, 2015

A Benefit for 1st Call For Help of Reno County

     Concert For The Cause held a benefit for 1st Call For Help of Reno County on Friday night at The Rusty Needle.  There was live music provided by Colton Gartleman, Sean Story and Morgan Wilk.  Throughout the night folks were encouraged to sign up for the many raffle items that were on display.

     Colton started out his set by singing a rousing rendition of Blue on Black.  This song got the crowds attention.  He followed up with Copperhead Road, Hurts So Good (which Gartleman put his own twist on both the lyrics and music, I loved it!), there was Old Time Rock and Roll, Keep On Rockin' In The Free World, and finally Last Dance with Mary Jane.  All in all Gartleman played an amazing set of 13 songs.  Incredible!

     Sean took to the stage next and started his set with Wonderwall, he also did his now infamous rendition of Creep as sung by Kermit The Frog (this was a requested song), and even managed to work in a Christmas song: Santa Claus is Coming to Town. Story sang en extensive set as well, of over 11 songs.

     Throughout the night the bucket was passed again and again for donations while the performers kept pumping up all the good the 1st Call does throughout the year for the Hutchinson community.  Folks continued buying chances to try and win a raffle item or two.  The crowd came and went all evening and the bar was nearly capacity all night.

    Morgan took to the stage and Sean accompanied her during her set on either mandolin or guitar.  Wilk sang some original songs as well as cover tunes.  She sang her original songs: Good Memories, My Own Pair of Wings, The Sunnyside (always a crowd favorite), and Kinda Like Mine (about a favorite nephew).  Then there were the cover tunes: Hard Candy Christman, Purple Rain, and Freedom Isn't Free.

      As the evening drew to a close, the bucket was passed one last time and then it was time to draw the names of the raffle winners.  Many merchants donated to the event to make the raffle possible.  Thank you's go out to Longs (sweat shirts), Stutzman's (poinsettias), Roy's Pit Barbecue (gift certificates), Sumo Creations (pen made out of beautiful stone), Hastings (gift certificates), Bornholdt Plant Land (hummingbird feeder and a planting kneeler), Outdoor Decor (pottery and yard art) and of course, the shining star of the evening, Westfahl Jewelers who donated a ruby bracelet.  Cindy M. won three times and took home that beautiful bracelet. 

      1st Call for Help of Reno County raised some much needed funds to finish out their year.  This show was the final show for the 2015 season for Concert For The Cause.  But CFTC will return next year with more concerts benefiting great Hutchinson charities.

Friday, December 11, 2015

CFTC-1st Call For Help

      This Friday, December 11, 7:00 to 11:00 pm, Concert For The Cause will host a benefit for 1st Call For Help at The Rusty Needle.  There will be performances by Morgan Wilk, Sean Story and Colton Gartleman, among others.  Also register for a chance to win a  variety of prizes which have been provided by Roy's Pit Barbecue, Bornholdt Plant Land, Longs, Westfahl Jewelers, Mikes, and Outdoor Decor.  What could be better than a night of great music and a chance to win terrific prizes, all while helping a local organization.

     1st Call For Help is a local organization that operates primarily on donations from the community, although they do receive a small amount of money from Reno County mill levy funds.  Right now the need is huge for this organization, a $19,000. grant that generally pays most of the operating capital and provides for the needs of those that the organization serves was not available this year.  So, it is more important than ever to raise money to keep the operation going in the year 2016.

     Over 450 families with emergency needs were helped this past year but with the tremendous cut in funding it is unclear how 1st Call will be able to continue to help the poorest of the poor in Reno County.  Over 175 elderly folks were helped this year with simple basic needs, such as soap, shampoo, personal care items, laundry detergent, etc.  These small things made a tremendous difference in their lives as they were unable to afford these basic healthcare items.  The back to school book bag program provided 1800 school bags for children attending school who could not afford to purchase school supplies.  1st Call also provides diapers, wipes, blankets, formula, and baby food for babies.  During the Christmas season the organization also provides gifts for Teen Christmas.

     The need has never been greater for babies, children, teens, families, the disabled, and the elderly.  Please join Concert For The Cause on Friday night at The Rusty Needle and help 1st Call For Help continue to help those in need by making a donation, enjoying some terrific live music, and registering for a chance to win great prizes.    

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Book Review-Larry Saves The Prairie

     At first glance, this appears to be a book for children.  I have always found though that if you make the book something that appeals to adults as well as kids, you've hit your target audience, which is well, everyone.  This book will appeal to readers of all ages.

     I love the way this book lays out its concepts.  It is straight forward, informative, it doesn't talk down to the reader or over explain.  It meets the reader at whatever level they are at and assumes that information and a good story is what the reader is looking for when they pick up a book.

    The concepts explained were keystone species (a term I'd never heard before, but found fascinating), the health of the prairie and how we keep it that way, it discussed other animals and how all species depend on one another to sustain their communities, it discussed myths that are prevalent regarding the prairie dog, and I found it interesting to learn that in order to "fence" in a prairie dog community you simply grow tall grass around the community and the prairie dogs will not venture into that area or beyond because they can't see over the grass to locate predators. Ultimately, the book is about Larry Haverfield's fight to save his beloved prairie.

     I showed this book to some neighborhood children and adults to get their reactions.  The coloring pages at the back were a big hit, of course.  Kids like books they can do a variety of things with, so reading and coloring go hand in hand.  One of the older children liked the "how you can help" section and wanted to see how they could help out in their community with this project.  The adults liked this feature too.  Prairie Dogs are a popular item here in Hutchinson and folks want to get involved.

     If you have a child or an adult that is hard to buy for, I'd recommend this book.  It's a great gift for all ages.  To find out more about the book or to contact the author, check out this link:

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Preview-Big Bad Voodoo Daddy

     On December 15, Big Bad Voodoo Daddy will be appearing in Wichita at The Orpheum Theatre.   I had a chance to talk to the groups co-founder and lead singer, Scotty Morris.  If you're planning on attending this show, here is the inside scoop and what you need to know before heading out to the show.

     Christmas is right around the corner and what better way to usher in the season than with some West Coast Swing.  BBVD has two Christmas albums, 2003's release of  Everything You Want For Christmas and a 2013 release of It Feels Like Christmas Time.  The show will primarily draw from these two albums, but of course, there's always room for a few other tunes along the way that aren't specifically Christmas related.

     The band got its name when Scotty Morris attended an Albert Collins concert.  He describes it as the best night of his life.  Collins, a Blues legend, autographed a poster from the show and wrote on it: To Scotty, The Big Bad Voodoo Daddy.  Thus an idea for a band began to take shape. Unfortunately, Morris never got to tell Collins this story but he did share it on The Tonight Show and Collins' family heard about it and were thrilled.  

     The outfits the group wears on stage are authentic vintage clothing store finds.  They represent years of trial and error in which the band has amassed a nice collection of quality suits and ties that represent the overall stage presence that gives the band it's unique style. No stylist's for this band.  Down to the smallest detail, everyone in the band is constantly working on their look.

     BBVD started out as a punk and alternative rock band, no lie.  But it was a life long love of swing and early jazz music that finally provided the base for the band.  Punk music is full of wild and unpredictable energy as is early jazz music.  Both share an energy and an emotional element that just naturally flows into a swing based beat.

     Then you take that swing style with a jazzy beat and put a symphony orchestra behind it and BBVD bridges two fan bases together for another exciting alternative in music.  For almost as long as BBVD has been a band they have been pushing the envelope to see just what appeals to music lovers and with their symphony project they found yet another way to reach true music lovers.  A stage full of people with one goal, memorable music.

     The band continues to dig further, to find new audiences for their music. BBVD performed a special tune called Mr Pinstripe Suit on Dancing With The Stars.  Apolo Anton Ohno's routine to that song helped him win Dancing With The Stars, Season 12.  This along with their work with Disney films has helped make Big Bad Voodoo Daddy a household name.

     So what's ahead for this unique band?  Watch for new CD's in 2016 and 2018.  They'll be more information on these the future.  Check out this link if you just can't wait:



Tuesday, December 8, 2015

The Nutcracker Ballet

     The Moscow Ballet from Russia did a superb performance on Wednesday, December 2nd, at The Stiefel Theatre in Salina, performing a play first seen in St. Petersburg, Russia at the end of the 19th century,with a musical score by Russian playwright, Tchaikovsky.  It was a ballet that was easily understood and easily accessible to the general public.  The costumes, the Russian Trioka sleigh, the Rousseau-inspired backdrops all brought a quiet elegance to the stage.

   Take a step back in time to Russia in the 1890's.  There is a girl there whose name is Masha and she is on her way to find her handsome prince who at the beginning of this ballet is disguised as a lowly wooden nutcracker.

     It's Christmas Eve and the family is opening up their gifts.  Among those gifts is a tiny man who is a wooden nutcracker.  Masha is enchanted with him.  So much so, that after the festivities have ended and the children are in bed, Masha sneaks back downstairs to check on her beloved nutcracker and interrupts a war which is taking place between the Gingerbread Men and the mice in the parlor. Masha aids the nutcracker in fighting off an attack from one of the mice, and the nutcracker is transformed in the process.

     Masha, along with her nutcracker prince is now off on a fairy-tale journey to the land of Peace and Harmony.  The pair are greeted by a giant dove and are ferried about by Father Christmas and the Snow Maiden.  The group travels to a variety of places in the Land of Peace and Harmony in a beautiful sleigh where they meet a variety of characters.  In the end, true love triumphs over all.

     Over 40 children from the Salina area also participated with The Moscow Dance Company in bringing this ballet to life.  They trained, practiced and prepared along with the dance company for the night's performance.

     The costumes were magnificent, the stage a delight for the eye with amazing backdrops, the music superb, the dancers were polished and their performance spot on, and the story, one for the ages.  The Stiefel Theatre, Jane Gates, and the sponsors for the night are to be commended for bringing this excellent stage production of The Nutcracker to Salina.  Bravo!