Love Thy Mother: Earth Day 2012

It’s no secret that I like environmental-awareness movies (my review of The Lorax shows that), but Earth Day was not a special event in the film world until three years ago. Disneynature, a new movie-making department of Walt Disney Pictures that focuses on creating nature-based documentaries, released Earth on Earth Day (April 22, 2009). The film followed three families — polar bears, elephants and blue whales — offering a variety of visuals and locations. The diverse film did what great nature documentaries do: tell a story with striking images.

Disney followed Earth with showcasing the tales of the deep with Oceans in 2010 and the story of the felines of the savanna with African Cats in 2011. Not only does Disneynature use superstars to narrate the films (James Earl Jones, Pierce Brosnan and Samuel L. Jackson, to name a few), they donate a portion of ticket sales to conservation organizations that are closely related to each film. For example, a portion of ticket sales for Chimpanzee, opening April 20, 2012, will go to the Jane Goodall Institute.

Oscar, the star of the show.

Chimpanzee, narrated by Tim Allen,  will follow Oscar, a young chimp who is separated from his mother. Chimpanzee, however, will have something the other Disneynature films have yet to experience: competition. Warner Brothers’ To The Arctic, a nature doc featuring a family of polar bears, also opens April 20. With Meryl Streep narrating, Warner Bros. is trying its hand at environmentally-aware success.

No matter who comes out on top in the chimps vs. bears brawl at the box office, both films will educate and protect habitats and creatures. As said earlier, Chimpanzee will donate part of its proceeds to the Jane Goodall Institute. To The Arctic, part of the nonprofit One World One Ocean Campaign, is partnering with Coca-Cola and the World Wildlife Fund for the Arctic Home project, which is working to save the polar bears’ habitat.  With nature docs becoming more and more popular, conservation and environmental awareness will continue to improve. Education through entertainment is what separates these works of art from a boring 9th grade biology video.

Top Three Meals of My Life

Food, especially in the South, is more than mere sustenance we shove into our mouths. Food is a quenching art form, and the perfect meal can leave your belly swollen with sleepiness, remaining in your memory for years to come.
Most of my favorite meals occurred while on vacation. Of course, the magic of travel can make these memories sweeter, but I long to eat these meals again.

1. Chelsea Grill, New York City


My family and I happened upon the Chelsea Grill, located in Hell’s Kitchen, by chance. It was late, and we were starving.

The Chelsea Grill may not be New York’s largest restaurant, but the exposed brick and candles make it a posh, yet rustic, spot. My penne pasta with vodka sauce was creamy, cheesy and slightly, but pleasingly, tart. The tomatoes were fresh, firm and sweet, and the pieces of chicken breast tossed in with the pasta were tender. That night, I went from tolerating asparagus to craving asparagus after trying stalks of the char-grilled vegetable. Seasoned with fresh pepper, the stalks were as thick as a quarter.

The Chelsea Grill offers a variety of food, mostly American-inspired, like steaks, pork chops, sandwiches, salads and pasta.

2. Boma, Walt Disney World Resort

Boma is an African-inspired buffet in Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge, a safari-style hotel near Disney’s Animal Kingdom. After visiting Boma during my senior trip, it’s a must-go whenever I’m in Disney World.

Boma offers a variety of food– meats, salads, soups, vegetarian options, desserts and more. The soup and salad bar is one of the best I’ve ever experienced. Five unique soups ranging in color (there’s usually a pastel green and/or buttery orange) and ingredients offer a variety of choices. My favorite is a coconut-seafood creamy soup. The salad bar’s tangy vinaigrettes over mixed greens and spinach are fresh and flavorful.

If you’re picky, don’t worry. Meat, potatoes and mac n’ cheese allow even the choosiest eaters something to munch on.

Be sure to save room for the dessert bar. The zebra domes made with chocolate, cream and rum are my weakness.

Be sure to look around the resort before or after your meal. Animals surround the grounds and the rustic, African decor makes you feel like you’re across the globe.

My friends Allison and Callie have a little too much fun with the decor.

3. Mystery Sandwich, Paris

My friend John Paul enjoys his Swiss cheese.

When I was in France a few years ago on a church trip, lunch was provided on our way from Paris to Normandy. It was the best sandwich I’ve ever eaten, and I have no idea where it was from.

A warm baguette with only two ingredients is still etched in my memory. Only Swiss cheese and creamy French butter topped the sandwich, but it was more flavorful than a sandwich with ten ingredients. I’ve tried to recreate the sandwich a number of times, but it’s impossible.

According to our tour guides, putting butter on a sandwich is a French custom, as they don’t typically use condiments.

If I wasn’t a celebrity, would you be so nice to me?

Part of the thrill of visiting a big city like New York or LA involves the possibility of running into a celebrity. I confess, I am that crazy girl in the Big Apple, keeping my eyes peeled as I trotted through SoHo.

Then there’s the chance times celebrities visit you. When Alabama played LSU in Tuscaloosa last year, celebs invaded my mid-sized hometown for the Game of the Century. Stars included LeBron James, Sela Ward, Lil Wayne and many football greats. Not to mention, the stars of ESPN’s College Game Day set up camp in Tuscaloosa on Thursday. My friend Morgan was able to snag a picture with former Cincinnati Bengal David Pollack.

The excitement of meeting someone famous should be experienced by everyone, even if you’re not a celeb guru like myself. Now don’t go stalker crazy or anything, but if the opportunity for a autograph or picture presents itself, take it.

Though I keep a close watch when traveling, I’ve never met a celeb on a trip. Never. I’ve visited New York and LA a number of times, not to mention London and Paris, and I’ve been unsuccessful. I waited outside what was supposedly The Jonas Brothers’ hotel for about thirty minutes, and that’s the closest I’ve gotten. My recommendation is to look for opportunities near you. You’ll know the area better and most likely have more success.

Last weekend, I visited Barber Motor Sports, a track in the Izod Indy Car series. Patrick Dempsey races there, and my friends Kelsey, Jordan and I were lucky enough to meet him.

Dempsey greeted everyone who was waiting outside his tent, signing autographs and taking pictures. If a group this size spotted him in NYC, for example, he would not have been able to take the time to talk with everyone. For safety reasons, he probably would need to get away as quickly as possible.

So, look for opportunities near you to see the stars. In the South, sports events are some of the best places to meet the rich and famous.

Swan Lake vs. The Swan Princess

New Line Cinema’s The Swan Princess is a retelling of Pyotr Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake, sharing the story of the classic ballet through an animated musical. Both works concern the life of Princess Odette, a beautiful princess placed under a spell that transforms her into a swan. However, differences are apparent in the plot and character of Odette.

In Swan Lake, the ballet opens with Prince Siegfried at his castle.  He must pick a wife and declare his love for her, but instead chases a pack of swans into the woods armed with his crossbow.  In The Swan Princess, although, Prince Derek and Princess Odette, are arranged to marry and know one another from a young age.  In fact, the film opens with a probably 4-year-old Derek presenting the newborn Odette with a locket.  The early meeting mimics other animated fairy tales, such as Walt Disney’s Sleeping Beauty.  A similar scene to Swan Lake’s opening occurs later in the film, but The Swan Princess’s opening with the feuding song, “This Is My Idea,” gives the film a more relaxed tone than the ballet. The song shows a montage of things the two don’t like about each other, likes Derek kicking Odette out of his all-boys clubhouse and Derek’s annoyance at Odette flirting with the castle’s guards.

The upbeat song turns serious when the two fall for one another and sing “this is my idea of love.”  As the two dance together at the song’s end, it is reminiscent of Odette and Siegfried’s first dance in Act 2 of Swan Lake.  Derek’s spinning of Odette as they become reacquainted is inspired by Siegfried’s twirling of Odette when they meet for the first time.  Though The Swan Princess offers more backstory on the prince and princess as children and allows them to meet when they’re young, the romantic meeting of Odette and her prince in both the musical and the ballet are similar.

Prince Siegfried and Odette

The Swan Princess’s Odette is more modern and independent than Odette from Swan Lake.  In both works, the prince is drawn to the princess by incredible physical attraction.  Since there is no dialogue in Swan Lake, and Siegfried and Odette do not spend much time getting to know each other, it can be assumed that physical attraction is a large contributor for their love, specifically Siegfried’s love for Odette.  They share a dance and then Siegfried begins to proclaim his pledge of love to Odette.  After a similar dance in The Swan Princess, Derek and Odette share their first kiss.   Derek shouts that the two will be married, but Odette protests, showcasing her powerful nature.  She asks him, “Is beauty all that matters to you?” He replies with, “What else is there?” Odette flees this purely superficial relationship, which unfortunately leads to her capture.

Although Odette is more fiery in The Swan Princess, she relies on her prince for her freedom like Odette from Swan Lake.  In both works, she clings to her prince whenever he comes to visit her, and she cannot break away from Rothbart without him, no matter how hard she tries.

It's also significantly more creepy than the other works.

A more recent retelling of Swan Lake is the 2010 thriller Black Swan, starring Natalie Portman. The film highlights the conflict between the white swan, Princess Odette, and the black swan, Rothbart’s dark clone of the princess. Black Swan focuses more on the actual performers of the ballet, as whoever plays the pure and noble Odette must also be able to portray the evil Black Swan.

Get Ready for The Hunger Games Premiere

The Hunger Games opens to the public at midnight tonight. Midnight premieres are perfect for movies that you’re very passionate about, as they open up opportunities for costumes and possible fan fights. Tonight, my friend Morgan and I are going hardcore Team Peeta.

First, we’re making shirts. We used plain black shirts and decorated them with acrylic paint and craft glitter.

Front

Back

We’re also channeling our inner Katniss through her side braid. This video from Sparknotes explains how to transform your hair into the hair of a champion.

Hopefully Morgan and I won’t get into a fight with some members of Team Gale.

21 Jump Street: A Must See for Spring

Props to the costume department.

When I first saw the preview for 21 Jump Street, I thought it was going to be a sloppy, raunchy R-rated comedy during the Spring slump of movie season.

I’m happy to say that I was wrong.

21 Jump Street is the best comedy I’ve seen since 2011’s Bad Teacher and it’s probably better than Cameron Diaz’s hilarious role as a teacher who wants nothing more than a breast augmentation.

Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum play clumsy cops who have one thing on their side: a youthful appearance. So, they are assigned to a special division called 21 Jump Street where they must go undercover as high school students to catch the creator of a new, dangerous drug.

Though I expected Jonah Hill to shine as the comedic backbone, Channing Tatum was the true star. He comes off flat in romantic comedies and action flicks like The Vow and G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra, but in 21 Jump Street, he portrays a hilarious jock turned nerd who bands with a group of high school geeks.

“And I don’t know if you noticed, but this kid is white. So people actually give a ****.”

-21 Jump Street’s Ice Cube on the death of a high school student due to drugs

Ice Cube, who plays Hill and Tatum’s captain, was surprisingly funny as well. He plays to and against the stereotype of an angry, African American police captain. Stereotypes- breaking them and acknowledging them- are the source of comedy for this film. Making fun of traditional action film and cop movie plot lines were some of my favorite parts.

And, of course, the film plays homage to the original late 80s television series, 21 Jump Street, starring Johnny Depp and Dustin Nguyen.

A great medium for fashion.

The end of the film hints at a possible sequel in which Hill and Tatum will have to pose as college students. Hopefully the cops will be at it again in a few years.