Win four tickets to see Blue Man Group!

Enter to win tickets to see Blue Man Group!A few years ago, dh and a bunch of us went to see Blue Man Group in Boston. Much like the ads promised, we had a fantastic time: it was ninety minutes of interactive performance art that was a visual and aural overdose of amazing. Fast forward to this summer, when Blogger Bash offered attendees the opportunity to see Blue Man Group on the first day of the conference. Naturally, I jumped at the chance.

It was brilliant.

Me with the Blue Men!

Only a couple of the bits I saw years ago were still there, specifically the “paint drumming” and grand finale (both of which have been featured in TV ads for years), but most of the show was stuff I’d never seen–and it was thought-provoking and relentlessly creative.

Better still, after the show ended, we were told that the Blue Man Group folks were gifting each of us with a family four-pack of tickets to give away! What’s really incredible is that the winner doesn’t even have to go to New York City to take advantage of this offer. The tickets can be redeemed for shows at any Blue Man Group domestic location–Boston, New York, Orlando, Chicago, or Las Vegas–or any tour stop on their National Tour. Tickets fulfillment runs from September 8, 2015 – June 8, 2016, with some restrictions (basically ordering more than two weeks in advance and avoiding holiday blackout periods).

Blue Man Group cast, band, and crew take a bow

What. A. Show.

If you’re new to the Blue Man Group, you may wonder: Is Blue Man Group appropriate for kids? I’d say generally yes–with only limited reservations. There’s a strong use of color and motion, and the Blue Men’s mute performance makes it easier for kids who can’t follow heavy exposition. However, kiddos (or adults) who react strongly to strobe lights might fall prey to sensory overload at times. And the show can be LOUD, but that’s where earplugs come in handy. (They even have earplugs available, if you need them.) The “Bring the Kids” page on the Blue Man Group website has some great info and tips if you’re thinking about bringing the younglings along. Also note that there are a couple of Blue Man Group “Autism Speaks” performances yet to run in 2015; these are specifically designed to be friendlier to autistic people of all ages.

So, do you HAVE to bring the kids? Well, that’s entirely up to you. 😉

Entering the giveaway is easy and all the fine print is listed below. Best of luck! For more information about Blue Man Group, check out their website at http://blu.mn/bloggingblue.

 

a Rafflecopter giveaway



CONTEST RULES AND FINE PRINT

General rules: follow the rules and everybody gets along nicely. You earn entries based on your participation via the Rafflecopter widget, and this giveaway runs from 12:00am ET on Monday, August 10, 2015 until 12:00am ET on Monday, August 24, 2015. Only valid entries received during that timeframe will be considered legitimate. Anyone who commits fraud or tries to screw with the system, game the system, or otherwise not play nicely will be removed from consideration. Check “Wheaton’s 1st Law” if you want to understand where I’m coming from, folks. The winner will be notified by email within 1 week of selection. This blog is sponsoring this giveaway, which was kindly donated by the folks at Blue Man Group. I did not receive anything from Blue Man Group in exchange for hosting this giveaway; all bloggers who attended the Blue Man Group performance that was part of Blogger Bash 15 were offered the opportunity to host this giveaway. I only get the satisfaction of knowing someone else gets to have a good time at a show.

And now, for the official Contest Rules from the Blue Man Group folks:

PRIZE RESTRICTIONS
THE FULFILLMENT PERIOD BEGINS SEPTEMBER 8, 2015, FOR SELECT PERFORMANCES ONLY, AND TICKETS MUST BE REDEEMED BY JUNE 8, 2016. ALL REQUESTS ARE SUBJECT TO AVAILABILITY AND MUST BE SUBMITTED A MINIMUM OF TWO (2) WEEKS IN ADVANCE. IT IS NOT UNCOMMON FOR BLUE MAN GROUP PERFORMANCES TO SELL OUT, SO ADVANCE PLANNING IS REQUIRED. THE BEST SEATS AVAILABLE ARE LIKELY TO BE SUNDAY THROUGH THURSDAY SHOWS. HOLIDAY BLACKOUT PERIODS VARY BY CITY, AND THE CERTIFICATE IS NOT VALID DURING THOSE BLACKOUT PERIODS. THE CERTIFICATE DOES NOT GUARANTEE THAT TICKETS WILL BE AVAILABLE FOR THE PERFORMANCE OF YOUR CHOICE. CERTIFICATE HAS NO CASH VALUE AND IS NON-TRANSFERABLE. VALID FOR THE BLUE MAN GROUP SHOW ONLY WITH SEATING LOCATION AT THE DISCRETION OF THE BOX OFFICE. NOT VALID FOR VIP UPGRADES, THEME PARK, CLUB, OR SPECIAL EVENT ADMISSION. PARKING IS NOT INCLUDED. THERE ARE NO REFUNDS OR EXCHANGES ONCE TICKETS HAVE BEEN ISSUED. ALL REDEMPTIONS ARE FINAL. NO SUBSTITUTIONS, CASH EQUIVALENTS OR TRANSFERS ARE PERMITTED. NOT FOR RESALE. CERTIFICATE IS NOT VALID AFTER EXPIRATION DATE OF JUNE 8, 2016. BLUE MAN GROUP IS NOT RESPONSIBLE FOR REPLACING LOST OR STOLEN TICKETS AND/OR VOUCHERS.

ELIGIBILITY
EMPLOYEES OF BLUE MAN PRODUCTIONS, LLC, SPONSORS, AND ANY OF THEIR RESPECTIVE AFFILIATES’ EMPLOYEES AND EACH OF THEIR HOUSEHOLDS ARE NOT ELIGIBLE TO ENTER. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW. ALL FEDERAL, STATE, PROVINCIAL AND LOCAL LAWS AND REGULATIONS APPLY.

GENERAL CONDITIONS
ALL ENTRANTS RELEASE SPONSORS, BLUE MAN PRODUCTIONS, LLC, AND THEIR RESPECTIVE FOUNDERS, PARENT COMPANIES, AFFILIATES, SUBSIDIARIES AND THE DIRECTORS, OFFICERS, EMPLOYEES, AND AGENTS OF THE FOREGOING ENTITIES, AND ALL OTHERS ASSOCIATED WITH THE DEVELOPMENT AND EXECUTION OF THIS CONTEST (ALL AFOREMENTIONED PARTIES, THE “RELEASED PARTIES”) FROM ANY AND ALL LIABILITY FROM INJURY, LOSS OR DAMAGE OF ANY KIND. SPONSORS AND BLUE MAN GROUP RESERVE THE RIGHT TO CANCEL, MODIFY, OR TERMINATE THIS CONTEST OR ANY OF THE PRIZES AT ANY TIME, INCLUDING AFTER WINNERS ARE CHOSEN. ANY PERSONAL INFORMATION SUPPLIED BY ENTRANTS TO SPONSOR OR ITS AFFILIATES WILL BE SUBJECT TO SPONSOR’S PRIVACY POLICY , EXCEPT WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW AND BLUE MAN GROUP’S PRIVACY POLICY LOCATED AT 
HTTP://WWW.BLUEMAN.COM/PRIVACY-POLICY, ENTRY AND/OR WINNER’S ACCEPTANCE OF A PRIZE OF ANY KIND CONSTITUTES PERMISSION FOR THE SPONSOR AND BLUE MAN GROUP TO USE WINNER’S NAME, ADDRESS (CITY AND STATE), PHOTO, LIKENESS, BIOGRAPHICAL INFORMATION, STATEMENT AND VOICE FOR ADVERTISING/PUBLICITY PURPOSES WORLDWIDE AND IN ALL FORMS OF MEDIA IN PERPETUITY, WITHOUT FURTHER NOTICE TO OR COMPENSATION IN CONNECTION WITH SAID CONTEST OR THE PRIZE AWARDED. ALL ENTRANTS EXPRESSLY RELEASE THE SPONSOR, BLUE MAN GROUP, AND THEIR AFFILIATES, PARENT, AND THEIR RESPECTIVE AGENTS, EMPLOYEES, LICENSEES, DESIGNEES, AND ASSIGNS FROM AND AGAINST ANY AND ALL CLAIMS WHICH THEY HAVE OR MAY HAVE FOR INVASION OF PRIVACY, DEFAMATION, OR ANY OTHER CAUSE OF ACTION ARISING OUT OF ANY SUCH USE.

MISCELLANEOUS
BLUE MAN PRODUCTIONS, LLC, IS NOT THE SPONSOR OF THE CONTEST AND IS SOLELY PROVIDING THE PRIZE. THIS BLOG IS THE OFFICIAL SPONSOR. ENTRANTS AGREE TO BE BOUND BY THE PRIZE RESTRICTIONS, ELIGIBILITY REQUIREMENTS, AND SPONSOR RULES. BLUE MAN GROUP AND ALL RELATED INDICIA ©2015 BLUE MAN GROUP. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

 

Scar tissue, aka “I wish I could take the pain away, kiddo”

I don’t often look at the scar on my abdomen. I have a line across my lower belly, a narrow-lipped grimace, the remnant of 8″ incisions cut into me twice over for the births of my two children. I don’t regret the c-sections that gave me that scar, nor do I particularly care whether or not it ever fades completely from view. I doubt it could and, even if it did, a phantom of it would still remain in my mind because of how it connects me to two of the most important people in my life.

My dd will likely now have a scar, although at the tender age of eight and three-quarters years old, hers is from a decidedly less miraculous reason than the birth of a child. In her case, it was just a freak accident.

At camp yesterday, her group was playing a game where they tossed a partially-filled sport drink bottle from kid to kid. If a kid failed to catch it, they were “out”. Apparently, one of the kiddos didn’t catch the bottle and was flagged as “out”. This kiddo’s reaction was to hurl the bottle angrily at top speed–and I guess dd’s forehead was right in the path of the projectile. There’s no indication that it was anything other than an accident; it was an eight year old kid acting out because she was ticked off over getting booted from a game. Even so, it made for quite the day.

I closed up what I could from work as fast as I could (a testament to my AMAZING co-workers that I was able to delegate a few must-do’s to others), and then I raced at top speed to pick her up from camp. Bearing in mind that when camp called, they told me that they thought she needed stitches. Here’s me figuring that they’re possibly exaggerating. Maybe it’s just a big scratch or something.

Yeah, I was dead wrong.

The gash on dd’s forehead was a little less than an inch long but incredibly deep. It reminded me of the lash marks on the faces of characters from the battle between the Sentinels and residents of Zion in the last “Matrix” movie. NOT. GOOD. She was in decent enough spirits for a kid with an open wound on her head, though, so we went home to change her into clean clothes and headed off to get to the Urgent Care center as they opened. (Our doctor’s office can’t put in stitches, and the copay for the co-located Urgent Care is the same as a doctor’s office visit copay, as opposed to the ER copay–which is 4x as much and boasts at least the same waiting time, if not more.)

Everyone at Urgent Care was very sweet, and it was only when the triage nurse needed to irrigate the wound to clean it when dd howled, cried, and tensed her legs in obvious pain. Even so, her struggling was minimal and she squeezed my hand almost as hard as I squeezed hers, both of us so completely frustrated by my inability to wave a magic wand and make it all not be so.

The nurse practitioner was fantastic, as was the pediatric nurse; they numbed her up with a topical mixture heavy on lidocaine that made the injectable lidocaine (which was, unfortunately, still necessary) that much easier for her to handle. Five stitches and a total of two-and-a-half hours later, we emerged into the sunlight, ready to continue our afternoon.

We’ve been given strict limitations on her physical activity for the next 7-10 days (or as long as it takes for the wound to close up), and there are further instructions to keep her from scarring too much. We need to apply sunscreen daily to the site for at least 1-2 years. We need to apply Vitamin E oil daily to the site for at least 1 year. And all of this should (hopefully) preserve dd’s previously pristine face.

And yet I know this is possibly fruitless. She may end up with some kind of scar, due to some other eight year old girl’s dumbass temper tantrum.

I don’t mind that I have a scar. I earned mine at 33 (and again at 36), and I did so knowingly, going in with the understanding that my surgeries would result in a scar. I just wish I could protect dd (and ds) from the scars that are yet to come. Let this be the worst one she ever has to bear. Let this be the toughest visible reminder she has of the fact that other people, sometimes, are just assholes. Because yes, even eight year olds–especially ones that apparently only grudgingly gave half-hearted apologies for opening up another’s forehead–can be assholes. Let’s just call a spade a spade.

I wish it could be not so for her. And that is one of the toughest things that any parent has to bear, how little we can do sometimes to remove burdens from our kids. So I hope that if she does have a scar, her primary memory of it is not the angry, tantrum-throwing brat who hurled that bottle at her. I hope that her main memory is of how badass she was as she took five stitches to the head without so much as a whimper. She’s so strong. She’s so amazing. And she’s more than any scar she’ll ever carry.

Movie Review: “Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation”

Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation movie poster

It’s been a few years since we last saw Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise), and very little about him has changed in the intervening period. He’s still the same (mostly) stoic fellow, leading a team comprised primarily of the tech-savvy Luther Stickell (Ving Rhames) and Benji Dunn (Simon Pegg), with field-agent-turned-high-ranking-analyst-slash-desk-jockey William Brandt (Jeremy Renner) back stopping things from the DC-area. In this fifth installment of the “Mission: Impossible” franchise, Hunt squares off against The Syndicate, a shadowy organization introduced at the tail end of 2011’s “Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol”.

 

William Brandt, played by Jeremy Renner, and Luther Stickell, played by Ving Rhames

William Brandt (Jeremy Renner) and Luther Stickell (Ving Rhames)

 

The Syndicate is busy shaping the world through the deliberate sowing of chaos and destruction–or so Hunt thinks. As he chases down what others consider merely a phantom or a figment of his overactive imagination, he crosses paths several times with the just-as-mysterious Ilsa Faust (Rebecca Ferguson), whose steely gaze, badass moves, and strange unwillingness to pick a side both attract and confuse Hunt.

 

Ilsa Faust, played by Rebecca Ferguson

Ilsa Faust (Rebecca Ferguson)

 

Further complicating matters is that Hunt is collecting nemeses all over the place. Just as The Syndicate is trying to shut him down, so is CIA Director Alan Hunley (Alec Baldwin). Hunt dives headlong into a search of missing and presumed-dead agents from intelligence agencies worldwide, as he runs into several of them while pursuing The Syndicate. The trouble with The Syndicate, though, is that Hunt always seems to be one step behind them–an infuriating position for an agent typically used to being several moves ahead of his opponents.

Faust pops up periodically as Hunt chases The Syndicate through London, Vienna and Casablanca–including a stunning performance backstage at “Turandot” in Vienna, where Ferguson is wearing a silk dress as though she’s doing it a favor. The symbolism of the opera isn’t lost; in fact, the leitmotif of the eponymous character follows Faust throughout the movie from that point on, as she routinely leaves Hunt questioning her motives and allegiance.

 

Ilsa Faust, played by Rebecca Ferguson

Ilsa Faust (Rebecca Ferguson) proving sisters are doing it for themselves

 

“Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation” succeeds spectacularly is in its stunts and action sequences; it charges hard and fast throughout the majority of its two-hour, eleven minute run time, and Ferguson displays as much grit as she did in her title role as STARZ’s “White Queen”, but with far more gymnastic ability and an excess of endlessly impractical sky-high heels. Baldwin chews scenery with glee, relishing the opportunity to play the spoiler for Hunt, and Sean Harris’s turn as Solomon Lane makes one wonder if he has ice water running through his veins.

 

Ethan Hunt, played by Tom Cruise

Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) hanging off the side of a plane, because starting a movie off calmly isn’t the “MI” style

 

As much as I loved this movie–and while I truly do believe this is the “Mission: Impossible” franchise’s best outing since the first in the series–its greatest failing is in how it handled some of its actors. Cruise couldn’t be more wooden, although he clearly enjoys his time as a stuntman. Renner is effectively wasted as Brandt; for a character introduced only one movie ago as having serious field agent skills, he’s relegated mostly to staring at Hunt with moony eyes, wishing he were that cool. He’s never let off leash, and that’s a terrific shame for an actor who sports both acting AND action chops.

 

Alan Hunley, played by Alec Baldwin, and Benji Dunn, played by Simon Pegg

CIA Director Alan Hunley (Alec Baldwin) interrogating Benji Dunn (Simon Pegg), in a rare serious and emotive moment allowed of Pegg

 

But the worst crime is in the handling of Pegg’s Dunn. Introduced in 2006’s “Mission: Impossible III”, Dunn is seen as a standout technology whiz in an organization with more than its fair share of smart people. Over his three movies, his lines increased in direct proportion to his application as comic relief. Benji has only a few scenes where he gets to be as serious as the material and, though Pegg is a brilliant comedian, it’s just unfair to make him the constant punchline when he has the capacity to be just as steely as the rest of the crew.

Of the veterans, Rhames, at least, seems to get exactly what he wants, and he approaches his role with the relish of a man knowing he’s collecting a good paycheck no matter how much time he has on-screen. He seems to be having nearly as much fun as Ferguson, and his ease at fitting into Stickell’s skin is highly evident.

“Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation” is a fun thrill ride, despite its failure to capitalize on its talented stable of actors, particularly Renner and Pegg. What it does do, rather nicely, is provide some incredible action sequences and stunning performances by the likes of Ferguson and Harris, breathing new life into a franchise that’s perhaps not yet seen its last mission.

 

3 out of 4 stars

“Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation” opens nationwide on July 31, 2015. This movie is rated PG-13 for sequences of action and violence, and brief partial nudity.