Flash giveaway: Win four tickets to see “Annie” at the Boch Center Wang Theatre!

Annie

When I was a young kiddo, I got to see “Annie” on stage in Philadelphia. I know I can’t even tell you who was performing at the time, but the songs got stuck in my head for ages. Really, what’s better (as a kid) than seeing a rags-to-riches story AND THERE’S A DOG, TOO?! So perfect.

And so it happens that when I was approached with the opportunity to give away tickets to this really fun show, which will be running at the Boch Center Wang Theatre from May 9-21, 2017, I had to hop at it. After all, the only thing better than going to the theatre is going to the theatre AND getting to bring some friends and/or family, right?

So here’s the deal: this is a FLASH giveaway. In other words, you need to HOP ON THIS RIGHT NOW. Let’s break down the basics…

What’s up for grabs? A family four-pack of tickets to see “Annie” live at the Boch Center Wang Theatre in the heart of Boston’s Theatre District.

Sweet! So, can I use the tickets for any night? Nope. You have your choice of two different nights. Both shows are at 7:00pm. You can choose EITHER Tuesday, May 9, 2017 OR Wednesday, May 10, 2017. One or the other, not both.

How do I get in on this giveaway? Just use the rafflecopter below and follow the directions. You can enter as many times as it’ll let you, up until 12:00am on Friday, May 5, 2017. Yes, this is a short-duration giveaway, hence the word “Flash” in the title.

When will I find out if I won? The winner will be announced within one hour of the drawing, and I will coordinate with the lovely company that’s providing the tickets to ensure that you get the details you need in a timely fashion.

Any other catches or restrictions? Like, what if I don’t live near Boston? Can I still win? Well, you CAN win, but you’re on your own for getting to the theatre, finding a place to stay, etc. That said, Boston’s a wicked good town and if you want to use this as an excuse to come for a quickie visit, have at it. Just make sure that you don’t end up having a “hard knock life” of your own by showing up without ID to claim your tickets.

 

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 Wednesday, May 3, 2017 until 12:00am ET on Friday, May 5, 2017. 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. Google for “Wheaton’s 1st Law” if you want to understand where I’m coming from, folks. The winner will be notified by email within 1 hour of selection. This blog is sponsoring this giveaway, which was kindly donated by the folks producing “Annie” for the stage. I did not receive any payment in exchange for hosting this giveaway; I was one of many bloggers offered the opportunity to attend a press night of the show and to host a giveaway. I only get the satisfaction of knowing someone else gets to have a good time at a show.

**PRIZE RESTRICTIONS**
THE WINNER MAY CHOOSE FROM EITHER THE MAY 9, 2017 OR MAY 10, 2017 PRODUCTIONS. BOTH SHOWS BEGIN AT 7:00PM AND WILL BE AT THE BOCH CENTER WANG THEATRE. THE TICKETS WILL NOT BE EXCHANGEABLE, TRANSFERRABLE, SELLABLE, OR ANY OTHER “ABLES”. IF YOU WIN THEM, THESE ARE THE TWO SHOWS FROM WHICH YOU CAN CHOOSE. AT THIS THEATRE. PERIOD. THE PRIZE ONLY CONTAINS TICKETS–YOU ARE OWN YOUR OWN FOR TRANSPORTATION, LODGING, REFRESHMENTS, AND ANY OTHER EXPENSES RELATED TO YOUR EVENING OUT.

**ELIGIBILITY**
YOU MUST BE 18 OR OLDER TO WIN, AND YOU MUST BE ABLE TO PRESENT A VALID ID AT THE TIME OF TICKET PICKUP. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW. ALL FEDERAL, STATE, PROVINCIAL AND LOCAL LAWS AND REGULATIONS APPLY.

**GENERAL CONDITIONS**
ALL ENTRANTS RELEASE CRUNCHYMETROMOM, SPONSORS, 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 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, ENTRY AND/OR WINNER’S ACCEPTANCE OF A PRIZE OF ANY KIND CONSTITUTES PERMISSION FOR THE SPONSOR 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, 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**
THIS BLOG IS THE OFFICIAL SPONSOR. ENTRANTS AGREE TO BE BOUND BY THE PRIZE RESTRICTIONS, ELIGIBILITY REQUIREMENTS, AND SPONSOR RULES.

 

Movie Review: “Born in China”

Born in China

I don’t see a lot of movies that make me say “D’awww!” frequently, so Disneynature’s “Born in China” was a refreshing change of pace–a movie that appeals to adults and kids alike. Taking a break from the hyper-urban settings we often see representing China, “Born in China” showcases more remote regions, high in the mountains at 14,000 feet above sea level or along the flat, muddy, icy plains where antelopes dominate the landscape.

 

A Chinese valley with stunning hills shadowed by white, puffy clouds

A backdrop not to be ignored: the breathtaking wonder of China

 

The movie follows the stories of several different kinds of animals: antelopes, snow leopards, monkeys, cranes, and–of course–giant pandas. In each storyline (save for the cranes), you learn something about the animals’ psyches or how they relate to each other. The circle of life so brilliantly sung about in a Disney movie set half a world away is put on careful display for the G-rated set. Violence is depicted, but even when fatal it’s shown bloodlessly. Birth is seen, and babies are aplenty; you’ll almost never fail to please the younger crowd when you put baby animals on display. (Or so the theory goes.)

 

YaYa snuggling with her baby, MeiMei

Giant panda YaYa snuggling with her baby, MeiMei

 

As the story bounces back and forth between the different “characters”–Dawa, the snow leopard; TaoTao, the golden snub-nosed monkey; YaYa, the giant panda; and the nameless (yet max adorbs) Chiru antelopes–the contrasts in their environments and situations becomes clearer while their similarities emerge. Nature is a harsh place when food becomes scarce, family bonds can be incredibly tight, and there’s nothing like a mommy’s love for her babies (I can attest to that). If there’s a lesson to be learned (since none of the stories discuss any encroachment from environmental hazards and human predators), it is that instinct and love will keep the wheel of life turning as long as life can exist.

 

Dawa the snow leopard

Dawa, regal mistress of all that she surveys

 

Each of the character animals faces its own challenge: Dawa struggles with the difficulties that come from being atop the food chain (which isn’t always all that it’s cracked up to be), TaoTao turns “bad boy” when he feels ignored following the birth of his baby sister, YaYa quite literally can’t bring herself to let go of her baby, MeiMei, and the Chiru females have long roads to travel as they bring forth the next generation of antelopes.

 

TaoTao the monkey's family huddling together for warmth

TaoTao’s family huddles up to protect against winter’s bite

 

You see each animal in a seasonal vignette; the movie begins in Spring and progresses through to the Fall of the next year. Each of these mini-worlds contains some measure of danger and potential for heartache, but the filmmakers do their level best to keep the emotional damage to a minimum. The cranes are the sole exception to the build of a specific animal’s storyline; in their case, they serve as a reminder of their mystical role in Chinese folklore as carriers of spirits. When they are seen, it is the turning of a page, the inevitable cranking of that wheel. One life ends, another begins. And so it goes, endlessly.

 

Cranes taking flight

As cranes take flight, so do the souls of those who’ve recently departed

 

Could the movie have been trimmed here and there, or could the cranes have been more than a metaphor? Sure. But all in all, it was a cute film and it showed an incredibly gorgeous side of China I never knew existed. Narrator John Krakowski (“The Office”) adds equal parts gravitas and humor in his rendering of the stories. His comedic chops and timing are on full display when the male chiru are parading around in all of their glory, skills that are well appreciated by the adults in the crowd.

Is “Born in China” good for kids? ABSOLUTELY. As a G-rated film, it’s baked just for them, although the stunning visuals (including breathtaking time lapse imagery) are going to thrill the adults. It seemed a shame that we screened the film on a regular movie screen; it begged to be on a tall IMAX screen, where the flyovers and mountaintop views can really make your heart skip a beat. Stay for the end credits: there’s some really great behind-the-scenes footage, plus some more animals-being-adorable shots that are totally worth sticking around to see.

Another enticement to see “Born in China”, whose release date is timed to coincide with Earth Day Weekend: for every ticket sold for an opening week showing (April 21-27), Disneynature will make a donation to the World Wildlife Fund.

If that’s not enough to get you turning the wheel of your car towards the movie theatre, I’m just not sure what will.

Three and a half out of four stars.

“Born in China” opens in theatres on Friday, April 21, 2017. It’s rated G.

There’s nothing funny about actual “Mean Girls”

Mean girls suck. Actually, mean people suck, but I’m going to focus on the concept of the “mean girl”, since that’s what most relevant to the situation at hand. To get into it I need to set the stage, so I’m going to roll the clock back to my time in second grade (around 1980).

I was transferred to a new school so I could be part of a “Gifted & Talented” program, one of those accelerated learning programs that public schools in my area offered for kids who tested out of the standard curriculum. I didn’t know anyone there, but the rest of the kids had been together for several years. It’s not like I was some kind of novelty; the other kids mostly just ignored me those first few days. Only one girl took any interest in me, and we became fast friends–a deep friendship that continued for many years.

Some of the other girls, however, were assholes. It’s not like it was everybody, but a select group of A-groupers who were thinner and prettier than everyone else decided that I would be an easy target for their bullying. They’d be nice to me when they wanted to see how I solved a math problem, but otherwise they’d tease me for being fat, for being ugly, for being different from them. It was classic herd rejection.

It took years for me to be comfortable enough in my own skin that I was willing to look past what those early interactions did to my self-esteem. And there was no small part of me that sighed with relief when I saw that my daughter was an improvement on the model by leaps and bounds; she’s just this gorgeous, athletic, smart, funny, kind, and effortlessly cool kid. I figured things would be easier for her.

And yet, I spent a good bit of time up past her bedtime chatting with her last night about the mean girls that she’s encountering. Some are budding juvenile delinquents–not so much for lack of intelligence but for complete lack of discipline and manners. Some are from the classic “mean girl mold”, like telling anyone who’ll listen “I hate {dd}” and stage whispering about dd with her mean girl clique. Some are veritable human tofu: they take on the personality and aspect of those around them, regardless of whether they’re good or bad influences.

It’s sad and frustrating on so many levels. I want to protect dd from the pain that I went through, to have her rise above it and not feel rejected by those who choose to pick on her. I’m incredibly sad that some girls that I’ve known for years, that I’ve taken into my home at times or that I’ve spent time around, are treating her so horribly now. And I know that I can’t go to the parents and ask them why their kids are being such assholes to my kid, because it’s not my place to tell them so. (And they may be aware of the behavior and just don’t care, although I’d like to hope that’s not true.)

When I talked with dd about all of this mess, I asked her to see these kids for who they really are. The tofu girl may still be the nice girl that I’d like to think she is. But when her personality and actions change depending upon who’s she’s around, who’s the real her? The *mean* girl and the juvie-hall candidate-in-training are the ones I’ve told dd just to avoid. I’ve encouraged her to play with the kids that are nice, to find and make those safe spaces away from the kids that treat her like crap. That pushes her outside of her comfort zone which requires risking further rejection by attempting to go and play with someone new.

And I know that everyone thinks their kids are the cutest in the land, but seriously my girl is gorgeous. As in: when I look at her, I’m amazed that she’s my kid. That’s why it was a painful conversation, listening to her to tell me how ugly her face is, how much she hates the color of her skin, how few kids she feels comfortable playing with because of all the cliques and divisions that exist even at the 4th grade level. It hurts because she has natural advantages I didn’t (like her stunning beauty and her athleticism) and she’s still being subjected to this bullshit.

Maybe this is part of growing up, helping you develop a thicker skin and build your self-confidence…or maybe it’s just a shitty part of society that we really need to get past. Maybe one of these days we finally will. It just can’t come soon enough.