Archives for September 25, 2019

5 Reasons to Use a Cell Phone Gripper

Are you among those people who can’t get a proper hold of their phone? Is it slipping away from your hands, and even dropping from nightstands and other surfaces?

You are not to blame because the manufacturers made the backs of their phones slippery. However, there is something you can do about it!

If you get a reliable smartphone grip, you won’t have to worry about the phone slipping from your hands. Here is an overview of the reasons why grippers have become so popular these days.

1.      You Don’t Risk Phone Damage

The most important thing that a gripper should do is to protect your phone from damage. It’s not the problem that the device will slip from your hands or a table. It is the hit to the floor you should worry about as it may cause significant damage.

But if you choose a high-quality cell phone gripper, your phone will be secure wherever it is. It will provide a firm grip if you are holding it in your hand, and you don’t have to worry, it will fall if you put it on a glass table or another slippery surface.

That way, you eliminate the risk of phone damage and prolong the longevity of your device, which is important, especially if you bought an expensive product.  

2.      You Are Also Protecting Yourself

It sounds weird, but every smartphone owner was in a similar situation to this one. Imagine it: you are lying in your bed and browsing the internet, the chances are your phone is over your head. If you accidentally lose a grip and drop it, you may end up with a bruise, or even a broken nose. It may be tough to believe, but purchasing a phone grip is also a way to protect yourself.

3.      Top Adhesive Grips Are Elegant and Personalized

The best grips out there are adhesive units. It is easy to apply them, and they are extremely thin, which means they won’t affect the bulkiness of your device. Instead, they will provide an elegant and high-performing solution.

The premium brands out there put a lot of effort into personalizing their grips. CatTongue Grips, for example, has different collections that are flag, camo, or animal-inspired. You can even find licensed USC, and US ski & snowboard grips. It is up to you to pick the grip that fits your lifestyle the most.

4.      Versatile and Available for All Devices

It doesn’t matter which smartphone model you own because the best grips for phones will fit any version. Users who prefer iOS will also be happy to know they can use grippers for iPhones and iPods.

You can even find grips that fit iPads and tablets. The only thing to ensure is to pick the right size, and grippers will protect any portable device you have in your home.

5.      Excellent Value for the Money

We can talk about design and performance, but we cannot neglect the price. The era we live in dictates that the budget is an important segment of every purchase. However, it shouldn’t be a consideration when it comes to phone grips.

It is because these products are affordable and fit every budget. The price might depend on the design and collection you choose, but the important thing is that you will get excellent quality as long as you choose a reputable brand.

Smartphone and iPhone grips cost from $10 to $20, while tablet grippers may be a bit more expensive but even they shouldn’t go over $30. Since you will be getting long-lasting protection and comfort of using your phone, that sounds like a good deal in our book!

Ad Astra * A Roller Coaster Of Emotions That Takes Movie-going Beyond The Usual Thrill

Astronaut Roy McBride undertakes a mission across an unforgiving solar system to uncover the truth about his missing father and his doomed expedition that now, 30 years later, threatens the universe. KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Zoe C. comments, “This movie is not only a great story, Ad Astra is a roller coaster of emotions and a ride that makes the movie going experience beyond the usual thrill. It’s totally immersive and I enjoy that, and I recommend to experience it in IMAX for best results.” Calista B. adds, “This film is nothing like what I anticipated and I mean that in a good way. I had a lot of fun discussing the themes of this movie.” Katherine S. chimes in with, “Are you ready for a thrilling movie experience?  Ad Astra delivers this and more with terrific acting, great cinematography and amazing sound.” Madison W. wraps it up with, “Ad Astra has a very strange and artistic viewpoint of space. This film is personally not really my taste in film, but there are definitely moments that catch my eye. The way the visual effects pull this film together is completely mind blowing. They create the look of space and planets being realistic as if they are right in front of you.” See their full reviews below.

Ad Astra

By Zoe C., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 11

I feel transported to the moon and Neptune! This movie is not only a great story, Ad Astra is a roller coaster of emotions and a ride that makes the movie-going experience beyond the usual thrill. It’s totally immersive and I enjoy that, and I recommend to experience it in IMAX for best results.

It put me at the edge of my seat and is so exciting. The pace, in general, is slow. But there are a lot of action peaks that certainly shake your emotions. The visuals are stunning and the acting overwhelming. Probably, what I enjoyed the most is that in this futuristic voyage, where imagination floats, the human condition remains grounded. 

In Ad Astra, astronaut Roy McBride (Brad Pitt) joins a mission in which he will be sent to outer space to find his father, who disappeared 30 years ago and is associated with a threat to humanity. Roy’s journey is also personal –  they have a dysfunctional father / son relationship, but share a strong bond for the love for outer space.

The car chase on the moon, when space pirates attack, is one of my favorite scenes. It is original and out of this world, literally. I also love the scenes when Roy is floating out of the spaceship.

The cinematography (Hoyte Van Hoytema) and visual effects are the most remarkable technical aspects of the film. The movie has a heart and Brad Pitt’s performance makes us remember that, despite all advances in technology and stunning visuals, the core will be always humankind. There are a lot of close-ups and drama, and the journey is not only beyond the frontiers of Earth, but inside of our souls. I did not find some secondary characters’ interactions as important as they should be. The music composed by Max Richter is very atmospheric and keeps us suspended.

Ad Astra is very unique because of the story; it’s not like any film you have seen in the past. I definitively recommend seeing this film if you love space, or maybe just want to see something different. One thing that I really liked is how futuristic it is, in a near future that is not that far from us.

I give this film 4.5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 12 to18+. Finally, the message of this film is there’s no greater journey than knowing ourselves. Ad Astra opens in theaters nationwide September 20, 2019. Look for it.

Ad Astra

By Calista B., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 15

This film is nothing like what I anticipated and I mean that in a good way. I had a lot of fun discussing the themes of this movie.

The movie follows Roy McBride (Brad Pitt) as he’s tasked with finding his missing father (Tommy Lee Jones) in hopes of stopping a series of electrical surges that threaten the world.

Now, while the whole cast is pretty fantastic, a good majority of the film revolves around Roy McBride. There are a lot of scenes where he’s by himself while narrating. And these are probably the most interesting scenes in the movie. And it’s not just because of the acting. The film is filled with voice over narration from Roy and these narrations are very interesting to think about. Since Roy is essentially prohibited from emoting, the narration sort of acts as his solution to that. I think that works really well, especially since, when he actually does emote, even slightly, it hits you really hard.

Speaking of the narration, that, along with the incredible ambient music gives the tone a very eerie, atmospheric vibe which fits the feeling of isolation in the vastness of space and the monotone acting. There’s also a lot of ideas in this film that are really creative and worthy of discussion. For example, in this movie, there are commercial flights to the moon. So when Roy actually gets to the moon, you can see recognizable restaurants in the background, implying the moon is essentially a travel location. This is such a neat idea and something I really wish was expanded upon. Not only that, but this film has some really thought-provoking themes relating to legacies, searching for something greater and repressing your emotions. For most of the film, people see Roy in relation to who his father was. And these scenes, along with some spoiler-y moments, led me and my mom to have an entire discussion about how certain people will never be able to fully escape the legacy of their ancestors, as their ancestor and that ancestor’s name will always weigh on them. Not just that, but the way space is used as a metaphor for taking what you have in life for granted is intriguing.

I give this film 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 13 to 18. It comes out September 20, 2019. Look for it.

Ad Astra

By Katherine S., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 11

Are you ready for a thrilling movie experience?  Ad Astra delivers this and more with terrific acting, great cinematography and amazing sound. 

The film’s title draws its name from the Latin phrase “ad astra” and means “to the stars.”   This science fiction movie is about an astronaut named Roy McBride (Brad Pitt) who goes into space to find his father (Tommy Lee Jones), who was also an astronaut.  When his father went to work on something called the Lima Project, he went missing and died, or so Roy thinks. He is called in and told that his father might be alive and is sent across the solar system to find him.

Ad Astra is so intense – almost too intense for me. The amazing performances from Brad Pitt, as Roy McBride, and Tommy Lee Jones, as Roy’s father, are so believable and they made want to both love and hate the characters by the end of the movie.  The special effects are realistic, and the sound is astonishing, as you can hear every move made. My favorite character is Roy because of his perseverance.

The message of the movie is: if something is hard, work through it. The intensity of the movie comes from some profanity, bloody images, dead bodies and violence (including some murderous actions). Obviously, these scenes include risky things that kids might try to do.

I give this movie 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 13 to 18, as kids any younger might get scared (like me!). Adults will also like this movie. This movie opens in theaters September 20, 2019.

Ad Astra

By Madison Whitman, KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 14

Ad Astra has a very strange and artistic viewpoint of space. This film is personally not really my taste in film, but there are definitely moments that catch my eye. The way the visual effects pull this film together is completely mind blowing. They create the look of space and planets being realistic as if they are right in front of you. 

Ad Astra tells the story of Roy McBride (Brad Pitt) who works for Spacecom. Roy sets out on an expedition across the solar system to find his father and his dad’s doomed expedition in order to solve a mystery that is threatening the universe. 

I would like to acknowledge Brad Pitt’s acting. Brad Pitt plays a major role in this film and, boy, he pulls it off outstandingly! You can definitely tell that he brings his all to bringing the concept to life.  However, the ending could have been a little bit more put together. I was a little confused throughout the whole movie and the ending did throw me off more than other parts.   Also, they could have given more information on a few characters—some randomly appear and leave which leaves you wondering what happened to them.

Ad Astra delivers a very inspiring message:  Never give up hope and keep fighting for what you love no matter what someone or the world tells you.

Ad Astra has some blood and gore, though there is hardly any profanity, except for one word and one gesture. I give Ad Astra 4 out of 5 stars. I recommend this film for ages 10 to 18 and adults would enjoy it. All in all, I recommend you check this film out.  Ad Astra is in theatres September 20, 2019.

Downton Abbey * Elegant, Well Narrated, Exquisite Performances

Downton Abbey is a 2019 British historical period drama film that acts as a continuation of the British television series of the same name. The film is written by Julian Fellowes, creator and executive producer of the television series, and directed by Michael Engler. Much of the original cast returns. The film, set in 1927, depicts an official state visit by the King and Queen to the Crawley family’s English country house in the Yorkshire countryside. As the Royal staff descend on Downton an assassin has also arrived and attempts to kill the monarch. The family and servants are pitted against the royal entourage, including the Queen’s Lady-in-Waiting who has fallen out with the Crawleys, especially the Dowager Countess, over an inheritance issue. KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Zoe C. comments, “This is probably one of my all time favorite movies! Downton Abbey stands alone as a film and it doesn’t matter if you watched the TV series or if you are totally new to the story. It is elegant, well narrated and the performances are fascinating.” Selene W. adds, “The majesty of Downton Abbey is its own character in the film and there is gorgeous footage of the estate.  The entire cast is talented and noteworthy, but I particularly enjoyed the sarcasm of Violet Crawley, played by the indomitable Maggie Smith, as she is “an expert in every matter.” Morgan B. wraps it up with, “All the way from TV to new movie comes Downton Abbey, a place of joy and mystery as well as love and honor. As a fan of the show, I am so glad to see they made a movie and let us know how everything ends.” See their full reviews below.

Downton Abbey

By Zoe C., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 11

This is probably one of my all-time favorite movies! Downton Abbey stands alone as a film and it doesn’t matter if you watched the TV series or if you are totally new to the story. I have not seen the TV series and enjoyed very much this long format installment. It is elegant, well narrated and the performances are fascinating. From the beginning, you are transported to early in the 20th century – the clock, the train, the letters. Very elaborate and detailed art direction combines with beautiful cinematography that makes this so pleasant to watch.

This is the story of the Crawley Family, a wealthy family that owns a state in the countryside in England, and all the employees that live with them. They are excited to receive the visit of the Queen and King of England, but their efforts to serve and all preparations are sabotaged by the monarchy protocol that insists the royals will bring their own servitude. During this very expected visit, all the people in Downton Abbey, from upstairs to downstairs, get involved in a series of events that ends up changing their lives.

We see the devotion and commitment every character has for this royal visit, which I found inspiring. Everyone is determined to perform their duties exceptionally well.  I loved the performances by Hugh Bonneville (as Robert Crawley, Earl of Grantham), Tuppence Middleton (as Lucy) and especially Maggie Smith (as Violet Crawley, Dowager Countess of Grantham). She is charming and funny.

The cinematography (Ben Smithard) and the sets (Donal Woods) revive the splendor of an era that I can’t believe existed not long ago. I love the costumes; they are rich and elaborate. John Lunn has composed beautiful music that is touching and intriguing at the same time and is a perfect fit for the movie. It is very classy.

The message of this film is that we all have to be true to ourselves and do what is important, for the passion of what matters. There are some jokes that I did not understand or are more suitable for grown-ups, but that didn’t stop me from enjoying this very classic story.

I give Downtown Abbey it 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 11 to 16+ because there are some mildly intense scenes. It opens in theaters September 20, 2019. Look for it.

Downton Abbey
By Selene W., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 11  


Looking for royal intrigue and aristocratic shenanigans?  Then, Downton Abbey is your cup of tea. 

This film is the continuing story of the Crawley Family who are the wealthy owners of Downton Abbey. The story unfolds as the entire family and their staff are in an uproar at the approaching visit of King George V and Queen Mary.  Their upcoming visit is a great honor, but also a challenge when the family and estate need to economize. There is much intrigue and maneuvering over wealth and power from inheritance disputes as well as currying royal favor.  Downton’s staff are in a fracas when the royal staff invades and take charge of the upcoming visit and there is much plotting below the stairs as well.  

The majesty of Downton Abbey is its own character in the film and there is gorgeous footage of the estate.  The entire cast is talented and noteworthy, but I particularly enjoyed the sarcasm of Violet Crawley, played by the indomitable Maggie Smith, as she is “an expert in every matter.”  Violet’s verbal jousting with Maud Bagshaw (Imelda Staunton) is my favorite storyline in this film.  The movie is directed by Michael Engler and the screenplay is written by Julian Fellowes. One can’t forget the majesty created by cinematographer Ben Smithard and production designer Donal Woods. Anna Robbins is the costume designer for the film and exquisite style takes on a role of its own.

The message of this film is about the importance of family and its continuity and traditions. The movie offers a glimpse into the past and the family’s efforts to maintain their traditions into the future.

I rate this film 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 12 through 18, plus adults. Parents need to be aware that there is some mature content. Downton Abbey opens in theaters on September 20, 2019. Look for it as you will be utterly delighted. 

Downton Abbey

By Morgan Bertsch, KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 14

All the way from TV to new movie comes Downton Abbey, a place of joy and mystery as well as love and honor. As a fan of the show, I am so glad to see they made a movie and let us know how everything ends. 

One of the things that Downton Abbey is known for is the costumes. Each one sparkles from head to toe and they all simply terrific. Each costume and actor looks elegant and yet, very simple at the same time. That in turns reveals their true personalities in the end.

All the characters are very unique and they all share one thing in common, a love for the place they live, Downton. Violet Crawley (Maggie Smith), who can be very as stubborn at times, is the best person to call when it comes to needing a smart and witty person. I love that she can turn any situation into a funny one, in literally ten seconds flat.

Lady Edith (Laura Carmichael) is the middle sister in family. She is very compassionate in times of need. This is one of the many reasons why she is such a great assist to her family and the people around her. Robert Crawley or the Earl of Grantham (Hugh Bonneville) owns Downton and wears his title to the fullest extent. He is not only a great father, but also a great man and a very helpful person in general.

Lady Mary Talbot (Michelle Dockery) is my personal pick of choice, when it comes to whom to have as your friend at Downton. She is the heart and soul of this magnificent place and, when it comes to keeping things running, that is exactly what she does. Not only does she help around the house, but she also gives the best advice, which is exactly why I pick Lady Mary to the new leader of Downton.

My favorite scene is when the Queen of England is being served dinner by the House of Downton for the first time ever. This scene shows a lot about the people who work there and also a lot about the Queen herself.

One issue I have with Downton Abby is that it reveals too many details about what happened to the Crawleys as their life had moved on. I hoped that they would keep some of it secret, so that we could wonder about it for just a while longer. Maybe they could have made a sequel to this movie, if they hadn’t answered so much. I recommend this for ages 12 to 18 and give it 5 out of 5 stars. It opens September 20, 2019 in theatres. 

Musco Center for the Arts Presents Disney’s ‘Pixar in Concert’

September 28, 2019 at 7:30pm

Disney’s ‘Pixar in Concert’, in which a live symphony orchestra performs selections from 14 Pixar film scores to a montage of scenes from each movie, comes to Musco Center for the Arts on Saturday, September 28 at 7:30 pm. 
Pixar has forever changed filmmaking while giving us some of the most enduring characters in cinematic history. From Toy Story to The Incredibles and UP, Pixar films are as magnificent to hear, as they are to see. To celebrate the timeless music of Randy Newman, Patrick Doyle, Thomas Newman, and Michael Giacchino, Disney created a concert version of songs and soundtracks that helped bring the films’ characters to life while earning 10 Grammy® Awards, three Academy Awards®, and 10 Oscar® nominations. 

The symphony orchestra, comprised of more than 70 professional musicians and Chapman University music students, will perform selections from CarsWALL•ERatatouilleA Bug’s LifeFinding NemoMonsters, Inc., Brave and the others in a visually stunning, high-definition, multi-media family show. Broadway World called it “pure magic” and Huffington Post wrote, “It’s a moment in life you’ll remember forever.”

The student participation is part of the Musco Master Class program, in collaboration with Chapman’s College of Performing Arts. This Musco program creates opportunities for students to learn from and work with exemplary artists and scholars from around the world who perform and present what Chapman University teaches. 

“This concert gives Chapman students a real-world work experience,” said Richard T. Bryant, Musco Center Executive Director. “They rehearse with seasoned professional musicians over two days, and then perform for the Musco Center audience. It’s indicative of our approach to the integration of our work with the life of the University. And our students can learn more about being a professional musician in those 48 hours that could be taught in a classroom.”

“Disney’s ‘Pixar in Concert’ marks the first of many collaborations between our students and professional musicians this season,” said Dr. Giulio Ongaro, Dean of Chapman University’s College of the Performing Arts. “A program like this is extremely valuable for the professional development of our students. Given the importance of orchestral music in the film industry, this is a unique opportunity for Chapman students to gain hands-on experience in the professional musical landscape.”

The September 28, 2019 performance begins at 7:30 pm. Tickets, beginning at $30, are available at www.muscocenter.org or through the Musco box office by calling 844-OC-MUSCO (844-626-8726). All print-at-home tickets include a no-cost parking pass. Musco Center for the Arts is located on the campus of Chapman University at 415 North Glassell, Orange, Calif.

Credit: The Musco Center.

Ruby, Sept. 26th Pet of the Week!

Ruby, you’re like a dreeeeeaaam…actually, Ruby has dreams, too. Her most vivid one is a home with people to play with and faces and hands to lick. Ruby’s 9 years old, but she runs and plays like a girl half her age. She’s a happy family-type dog who’d love to meet you at the P. D. Pitchford Companion Animal Village, 7700 East Spring St., (562) 570-PETS. Ask for ID#A521562.

(The usual suspects contributed to this rescue)

Credit: The P.D. Pitchford Companion Animal Village.