Interview With Big Miracle Director Ken Kwapis

Monday, January 30, 2012

Last weekend I spent a wonderful few days in Santa Monica for the press tour of the new movie, Big Miracle starring Drew Barrymore, John Krasinski, Kristin Bell, Ted Danson, Dermot Mulroney and Vinessa Shaw. Even though the film is based on real events that took place in the late 1980's, I don't remember any of the news stories catching my attention at the time. 

The story takes place over two weeks in Barrow, Alaska. Three California grey whales were late in their migration and got trapped when temperatures dropped faster than normal and the ice froze very quickly. An Alaskan reporter, played by Krasinski, taped video of the whales breaching in a small hole in the ice and the footage ended up on Tom Brokaw's national evening newscast. Soon, saving the three whales went beyond the locals of Barrow and became a matter for the US and Russian military, the White House, Greenpeace and a large oil company.

Mom Blogger Big Miracle interview panel
I'll admit, I was expecting Big Miracle to have a high cheese factor. Sometimes, true events that get converted to the big screen are more exaggeration than real (like The Blind Side). But thankfully that wasn't the case here. There are so many different elements to the movie, it could have been easy to get lost in all the story arcs but Director Ken Kwapis pulled them all together really well.

"A lot of people want to know what it's like as a director working on a film that has so many characters on it," Ken Kwapis said. "In addition to so many characters, there's so many sort of story strands. For instance, there's a geopolitical aspect. It's sort of a tale of the end of the Cold War. There's, what it's like to live in Alaska. It's a young boy's coming of age story. There's a kind of not quite romantic triangle in the middle of it. And all these things kind of hover around a rescue adventure."

Watching the movie and knowing what we're seeing on the screen happened, it's hard to tell what parts are for show and what was real. To me, that's a sign the movie is doing its job of pulling the viewers in.

The director admits one of the more emotional scenes in the movie was invented but adds that, " and large, the most unbelievable events in the film did actually happen. People did carve a path of holes for five miles. I have no clue how they did it. There was an actual event in which a search and rescue chopper pilot brought a flammable generator across the ice, and it was so cold because they had to open the doors that his eye did freeze shut, yes. That actually happened."

Other than the actors, the real stars of Big Miracle were the whales. It was refreshing to see a movie that could have gone heavily CGI choose to use animatronics instead. Fred, Wilma and Bamm Bamm really do look like live whales. All of the actors were able to forget they weren't actually real and lose themselves in the scenes with the whales.

"Yes, the animatronic whales were really unbelievable," John Krasinski said. "They were so well done. These guys from Australia built them and engineered them and then were working them. And it was kind of insane because you really did not believe that they were robots. It was very overwhelming to see one of these things pop out. And while you were acting, to have these things continuously coming out of the water was phenomenal."

Kristin Bell even joked that, "they were more real than some actors I know. Not in this movie, but they were so well made from their scarring to their barnacles. From action to cut, you genuinely felt connected, as if they were animals."

I really liked this movie and hope to read the book it was based on, Freeing the Whales, soon. I know my son will enjoy the movie too. More interview snippets to come!

Click here to watch the trailers for Big Miracle. The movie opens Friday, February 3rd. Follow #BigMiracle on Twitter and Facebook.

Thank you to Universal Pictures for including me on the press tour! 

(Universal provided accommodations, meals, access to the actors and director and entertainment)

Rachel Ray Magazine | Cheap Subscription Alert

Thursday, January 26, 2012

This deal was too good not to post. Tanga has an offer for a one-year subscription to Every Day with Rachel Ray magazine for $4.99 with code FOOD. Mine just ran out so the timing is perfect. I really enjoy this title. It's one I seem to copy recipes out of quite frequently. The September issue had a whole month of make ahead meals. I hope they start to include more columns like that, especially articles along the lines of 'what to make when chicken breasts are on sale.'

Meredith Corp. just bought Rachel Ray and I wouldn't be surprised if free digital subscriptions become a perk of being a print subscriber. They already offer that benefit for BH&G, Parents and Fitness. There are so many things publishers can do with a digital subscription, especially ones for titles that are product heavy in the editorial.

I see (hopefully) using this on my iPad for cooking demos and clips to Rachel's shows. The 'click to buy' options for her cookware, cookbooks and other items featured in the magazine plus a 'click to donate' option for her Yum-O foundation make it seem like a no brainer for the publisher to convert the magazine to digital. At least, that's my opinion. Fingers crossed that I'm right!

Fine print: Deal is only good for today 1/26. Please allow 8-14 weeks for your first issue to arrive. This magazine has 11 issues per subscription and you can buy up to a 4-year subscription. *affiliate link used

Santa Monica Sunset | Wordless Wednesday

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Casa del Mar Hotel, Santa Monica

Braces Suck, But Not for Much Longer!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

You see that light at the end of that tunnel over there? That's the deadline for getting my braces off. I've been dreaming about getting these torture devices off for months now. To say it's been a painful experience would be putting it mildly. Having braces as an adults bites the big one, pun intended.

'Braces on Teeth' photo (c) 2010, Dottie Mae - license:
Still, I know it will be more than worth it. No one should hate the way they look in photos or 'smile small' because they're embarrassed of their teeth. To keep me occupied while I wait for the big day, I've been compiling a mental list of all the things I want to eat once my teeth are unshackled. In no particular order they are:

1. Steak
2. Ribs
3. Hamburger*
4. Burrito*
5. Pizza*
6. Apples
7. Carrots
8. Broccoli and cauliflower that hasn't been boiled to death
9. Popcorn
10. Red Vines
11. Taffy
12. Some nut covered candybar like a Payday
13. Tacos in a hard shell
14. Gum (every day!)
15. Honey braid and peanut butter pretzels
16. Crusty bread
17. Salad
18.Cereal with really crunchy bits

I'm getting excited and drooling just thinking about all the food! Those of you who have had braces, what was your first post Metal Mouth Meal?

*I've eaten those plenty of times, but not the way they're meant to be eaten: sloppy and dripping from my two hands. Even the best burger loses it's luster when you have to cut it with a knife and fork.

Slashing Our Grocery Budget | Frugal Friday

Friday, January 13, 2012

My husband has given me a challenge: slash our monthly grocery budget by $40-$50. We're behind in meeting our financial goals so it's crunch time. We're trimming wherever we can and grocery shopping is my domain. I'm definitely up for the challenge and I've been doing my research.

I'm ready to try meal planning, I've signed up for every grocery loyalty program for the stores I shop in, I've organized my Google Reader so that the frugal blogs I read most are at the top, we got rid of our ink sucking printer (more on that later) and my coupon binder is finally complete. The only thing that's going to suck is how much time I'll be spending in the stores.

I got a start on re-building our stockpile a few days ago. We needed cereal and the deal at Vons was great. But, with the way so many So Cal stores have changed their coupon policies, I can't walk in and use all the coupons I have in one transaction. In most stores, I can only use 4 at a time, only one will double and sometime there's a specific dollar amount I need to purchase. All the rules will mean more trips to the stores. Case in point, the cereal.

This is three trips to two different Vons stores* plus Target for the coffee creamer (the meat was a happy accident). The in store coupon only for the cereal only allowed me to buy 4 boxes at a time. Between the paper and e-coupons I had 10 to use. Fortunately, I live in an area where almost all the stores I shop in are close enough that I can combine errands.

But, I think that, in order to make the absolute most of my coupons, I'm going to have to commit to scheduling more trips to the stores. Which means staying organized and getting my hand on more coupons so I can take advantage of more deals. If I'm going to go to a store three times, I might as well get all of the deals**! It seems I'm closer to becoming an 'extreme' couponer than I thought.

So, let me ask you: how willing are you to run multiple errands to take advantage of a great grocery deal? What types of deals do you consider too good to pass up?

*Pictured: 16 boxes of cereal, six creamers and 6 packages of ground beef.
*I don't buy things we don't eat or don't have room for just because they're on sale. You will not find pallets of soda in my garage.

Magazine Subscriptions on the iPad | Things iLove Thursday

Thursday, January 12, 2012

I've already written about reading books on the iPad so I thought I should talk about magazines as well. I LOVE reading magazines digitally. I currently have Cosmo, Entertainment Weekly, InStyle, All You, Wired and Martha Stewart Living. With the exception of Cosmo, I am a print subscriber to those titles, too.

Publishers are putting really awesome touches to their digital editions. Elements on some of the pages move (snow falls, lighbulbs glow for example), music plays, you can watch video tutorials, listen to interviews and lots of the ads are interactive. The video below is from Wired's site*. It shows the process of putting a digital issue together and some of the features of the app. My inner nerd loves behind the scenes stuff like this.

All of the digital magazines I have were free with my print subscription except Cosmo, which was a free deal I found on a blog. My Wired print subscription only cost $10 for the year and my Martha Stewart print was a freebie I found online too. Free magazine deals pop up all the time online.

As more and more companies offer the digital bundled with the print, you could be able to score some really great deals that will give you access to both if you keep your eyes open. If you have an iPad but someone you know does not, split the subscription cost. My mom has been wanting to subscribe to All You and I only have one issue left. Perfect timing.

Do I need both a print and digital copy? Not really. But, I usually leave a few magazines in my car for waiting in the car pool line, my ortho appointments or Tyler's hockey practice. I don't always take my iPad with me. I can read the digital copy in bed without needing a reading light and without the page turning keeping Phil awake. So far, I have had few problems with the apps crashing. The issues  download quickly and the features are easy to use.

Now, I'm more inclined to buy a print subscription if I know I'll have digital access for free. I'm hoping to renew Real Simple for just this reason. I do think there's a market for print and I hope the industry sees the wisdom in offering both formats to consumers. I see the future of digital copies being that we'll be able to share articles over different platforms.

Here's a list of magazines that offer a free digital subscription with a paid print:

InStyle, Entertainment Weekly, Real Simple, Wired, Martha Stewart, People, Time, Better Homes and Gardens, Parents, Fitness, Business Week, Fortune, All You, Health, Southern Living, Cooking Light, Sports Illustrated Kids, Essence

For those with an iPad are you reading magazines on it? Do you like it? If you don't have a tablet, do you see yourself using this feature?

Find out what other bloggers are loving this Thursday 
with Jill over at Diaper Diaries.

Edited 7/10/14: The video has been removed but, for reference, Wired Magazine's first iPad issue came out in 2010. Read about on and

Our Son Got To Meet His Favorite Author: DJ MacHale

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

This definitely falls under First World problems. Lately, we have to stay on Tyler about reading too much. Not the quantity, more like how late he stays up at night to do it. This kid is flying through books. Most recently, he fell in love with the Pendragon series by DJ MacHale. Combined, the 10-book series has just over 4500 pages. He read them all in about  2 1/2 months.

To say we are incredibly proud is an understatement. But. Our son floats through life as though time doesn't pertain to him (is that true for most kids?). We tell him it's time to go to bed, and that he can read until his bedtime, which is 9:00. If we don't follow up, he'll keep on reading. I admit, we've started watching a movie and forgot all about him until we go to bed ourselves.

Since this is one of the only problems we have with Tyler, we usually let it slide. He's a good kid, and reading until 11:30 on a school night is no big deal in the grand scheme of things. So, a few weeks ago when I saw a posting on MacHale's website that he would be signing books locally, I decided to surprise Tyler and take him to the book store.

When we got there, he saw the poster outside with MacHale's photo promoting his newest book.

"Hey, that's the guy who wrote the books I'm reading."

"I know. He's inside. We're going to buy that new book and he'll sign it for you."

Tyler's eyes got so big. "I get to meet him?"

"Yep. You can ask questions, too."

We bought the book and waited for the author to come out. He was so nice to all the kids. He asked them questions, posed for pictures and hinted at new projects he's working on. Tyler was in heaven.

We couldn't stay long because we were on the way to hockey practice, but Tyler was in heaven. He was one of the youngest kids there something MacHale pointed out after he asked Tyler his age. He assumed Tyler was in 6th grade and was surprised that he'd only recently turned 9. We could tell Tyler was proud of himself when MacHale said Tyler was one of the youngest readers (of his works) that he'd met.

Tyler and his favorite author
I really hope we get to do something like this again. We definitely don't have a problem getting Tyler to read, but having him meet the people behind the words he reads I know will make a really lasting impression and reinforce that reading is fun.

Have your kids been able to meet any of their idols?
copyright melanie sheridan 2009 template design by Studio Mommy (© copyright 2015)