Monday, October 31, 2011

Movie Review: In Time - PG13

Set in the future, people stop aging at age 25.  To stay alive beyond that, you either earn, inherit or steal more time.  Time becomes currency.  There are time zones set up to separate people who have little time left (the poor) and those who have plenty of time left (the wealthy)
Will Salas (Justin Timberlake) receives a large amount of time from a stranger who is tired of living (he is 105 with a 25 year-old body  and allows his own time to run out).   Because of his windfall, Will is pursued  by a cop (referred to as a timekeeper).
Throughout the story,  time referred to as currency.  A quick example:
Will's mother gets on a bus, and the driver says "that will be two hours"
She says "last week it was one hour"
He says "price has gone up"
Also, someone asks Sylvia "What's your father worth"?  She responds: "eons"
Will tips a waitress and says "keep a week for yourself".
Will and Sylvia are on the run, and are trying to right the wrongs of the system.  They are sort of like Robin Hood, distributing time to those who can't afford it.  There is plenty of action and  some violence. Content warnings include one scene where Sylvia is in her underwear, and some language. 
In addition to being very entertaining, it was very thought-provoking.   I kept thinking if this were real, how many people would get bored after hundreds of years of living and just let their time run out?   As a pro-lifer, the prospect of so many suicides, and poor people running out of time,  would greatly concern me.
Justin Timberlake is excellent in his role.  The ending left it wide open for a sequel, and I definitely hope they make one!
A very cool movie... see it!

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Movie Review: The Christmas Lodge - G

On a trip to the mountains, Mary  finds herself at the Christmas Lodge, which she had visited as a child.  As Mary and her family help to restore the Lodge to its former beauty, she begins to believe in, and find, true love again.

Family is the center of the story, how family inspires each other and helps each other.  One part that struck me was that Mary went away with her boyfriend, and they got separate rooms!  Unfortunately,  in today's culture, it is often taken for granted that dating = sleeping together, and it was refreshing to see that some people still have values.   I felt that Mary's character was played a bit stiff, but I like the values she personifies.

A very family-oriented Christmas story that is appropriate for all ages.

Roma Downey discusses her new video series "Little Angels"

Interview with Roma Downey, actress and Executive Producer of “Little Angels” DVD series.
 Little Angels are a DVD series in which preschoolers learn the basics like the ABC’s in the context of Bible stories told to preschool twins in their bedrooms by little angels who come down from a painting of Heaven on their ceiling. At the end of each lesson, Roma Downey has an informational chat with the parents about how to complete the character lesson, for example to encourage children to complete their chores or help them overcome irrational fears.
 The graphics are a bit lower quality than children are used to, and the angels in sneakers were jarring at first to this Italian art fan, however, my daughter didn’t mind the modern angel costumes, and she loved the music, she got up and danced! I thought that the Bible stories are well told, and the character lessons creatively incorporated into the story. Roma’s segment was a wonderfully reminiscent of her role as Monica on her runaway hit series “Touched by an Angel”. She is just as lovely and sweet as ever, with her lyrical Irish brogue. It was a pleasure to listen to her describe her latest project. She is the Executive Producer of this series in which she appears at the end giving advice to parents. 
 This would be a great Christmas gift for the preschoolers in your family.
Two DVDs will be released on Nov 1st.

Velasquez: I loved the series “Touched by an Angel” where you played Monica. Of the nine years you acted in the series, share with us a memorable moment.

Downey: We did a show in Salt Lake City. We had the community show up as extras pretending to play the community. It was just one of those moments of profound connection, each to the other, where grace is present, it never ceases to move me. It was fantastic.

Velasquez: Do you have any stories of people who were touched particularly by the show?

Downey: I think that many times we had actors come in to us whose lives in some ways echoed the journey that the character they were playing were on and there was always a sweetness to the coincidence of that. We had a line that was in one of the early shows, which said, “Coincidence is God’s way of remaining anonymous.”
Being on the show was just a fantastic experience for all of is, and for myself in particular, was my relationship with Della Reese. The relationship was what you saw between the character of Monica was really echoed by our off screen relationship and we remain close and loving, to this day, she’s been such a wise, loving mentor in my life, she’s been like a mother to me all these years. I’m particularly grateful for her and for her love.
When I was a little girl, my mother died when I was ten. I grew up in Ireland, tragically, while we were working together, Della’s only daughter died. I remember, not long after, she took me in her arms. And she said, “You know, God is so amazing, Roma, I always knew he brought me into your life because you needed a mother, I just hadn’t realized He was brining you into my life because I was going to need a daughter. Will you be my girl?” and I said, “yes!” and then she answered, “Then I am your Momma!”.
Velasquez: Such a gift to give someone to be needed, its wonderful you did that for one another. I was wondering what have been your favorite projects since “Touched by a Angel?”

Downey: Well, one of most favorite projects had been raising my family and they have been such a true joy for me. And I think that there might have been a moment when I might have just kicked my feet back, and thought, “I’m loving this”, but you know, I love God, I love angels and I love children. And so I had this opportunity to produce, nurture, help to shepherd the script, the animation, and we’re bringing “Little Angels” to market next week. The animated DVD series was developed for preschool children. It’s like all roads have led me to this place, this project. It was such a privilege to be the messenger for all those years, and to deliver a message of God’s love for millions of people, and here we are, we get the opportunity to do that again, it’s the same message but this time we’re bringing it out for the little children, for the wee ones. So it’s a beautiful, heartfelt project.

Velasquez: I watched it with my daughter and she got up and danced to the music its lovely. There’s a positive critic! Are Alex and Zoey based on real children?

Downey: They’re not, but they cover the gamut of experience and they face all the challenges that any four year old kid is bound to deal with. They’re siblings, so there’s a little bit of rivalry and jealousy, a little bit of lack of cooperation. We tried to deal with many of those themes throughout the episode, we’re releasing on November 1st “Little Angels ABC”, and “Little Angels Animals” and we’ll be following in the spring with “Little Angels 123” and then we’re hoping, down the pipeline to bring colors, shapes and so on. They also have a couple of books coming out in the spring and a couple of toys in production.
Its just very exciting, anybody that’s seen it, anybody that’s experienced it, see the potential for it as a brand, there’s nothing quite like this, and the marketplace that combines the desire to educate our children with practical life, practical learning skills. But it also introduces them to timeless Bible stories, and engages parents to discover fun ways to encourage their children to live by timeless Christian values.
I know as a working mom, I’ve been a working mom, most of my life, Leticia. It’s hard as a mom sometimes, you know, we all need to buy ten minutes; twenty minutes to get on the phone to deal with the plumber; to deal with a business call or whatever. I used to try and find a little space to deal with something. And it seems to me if you’re going to put them (your children) down in front of something, wouldn’t you rather they be put down in front of something which you knew you could trust for content? And that you knew was going to fill your child’s mind and their heart? Fill their mind with learning and their heart with how to be in the world: how to be kind, how to share, how to overcome your fears; the power of prayer?
 And also its so fun; we have eight little angels characters as you know and they come down (from the nursery ceiling) when the mom and dad aren’t around. They each have very unique personalities, and one of those personalities is Uriel, he’s the angel of creativity. And he’s a painter, and he speaks in Dr Seuss-like rhymes, he paints pictures for us in the nursery, and then, its almost in a dream the angels take the children into the picture, transport them back in time to the Bible. Suddenly our kids are able to observe Noah building his ark, or being in the belly of the whale with Jonah, or see how Joseph’s brother’s treat him badly because they were jealous of him. And they were able to use age-appropriate telling of these Bible stories, to reinforce these little life lessons that we’re teaching the kids. And when the kids come back into the nursery, the angels sort of reinforce that lesson for them. And then there’s a moment at he end of each DVD where its called “Little Life Lessons with Roma” where I speak directly to the parents and I continue to deepen the life lessons we’ve just explored in the DVD. I describe ways to further these with learning opportunities, engage in conversations with your preschoolers fun ways to engage your preschoolers’ imaginations and so on. That was great fun for me to do.
Velasquez: Parents are getting advice from so many different areas, its good to know its coming from a Christian perspective.
Downey: Absolutely. I don’t know if you know the MOPS (Mothers of Pre Schoolers) group at all, but this has received endorsements from MOPS. We know how busy moms are when they’re shopping, too and how great to be able to pick up our DVD or CD and see that golden seal of approval right there on the cover. If they had any doubt at all that this is something they should be getting for their kids, you know there’s so much junk out there, our kids really learn through visual means these days. We parents have to control what comes into them, that content. And so I’m very proud, this is something I have been working on for 18 months and I’m a person of faith myself, so I’m very proud to bring this out. I really believe in it and think its going to be a very valuable teaching tool for Christian families. And I also think its funny, its great. Let’s face it, if it isn’t funny if the kids don’t feel compelled to watch it, it doesn’t matter how good the message is. We’re not going to keep their attention. Its got the best writer, we have Phil Lawler, its got the best animation. Its been great for me to shepherd the animation process, to see the designs grow and emerge. We tried to keep the angels contemporary, we have them in sneakers, and jean, we wanted them to be relatable to our children. And sure you’ve noted Dina, the angel of learning she has a little Ipad. That made her very “of the moment”. There hasn’t been a screening group that we’ve shown it to that they haven’t gasped in delight when they see Dina’s Ipad. And you know we’re coming out with some apps on Itunes, and some really great games, they’ll be a daily prayer you can get for your child, we thought that was also a very great way to introduce prayer to your child’s life that you can go and say that prayer together. We’ll be following up with recipes, where the final ingredient will always be a “little sprinkle of love”. I just think its going to be fantastic, I’m heading on the road to do a tour between now and the end of Christmas, so now going out to try and spread the word.  Where are you located, Leticia?
Velasquez: In Connecticut, I’ll be giving you the Catholic Media Review sign of approval for these DVDs as Christmas gifts. Thank you for what you do with Operation Smile.
Downey: Its an opportunity to plug their work, and my experience asking people to help is that sometimes everybody gets paralyzed at the enormity of need in the world. And Operation Smile really does offer the possibility that we just change it one smile at a time. I really feel that somehow that becomes more manageable that if we all did something that way we could change the world.
Velasquez: Thank you and God bless you.


Thursday, October 27, 2011

Music Review: "Love All the Way" by Brittany Hargest

"Love All the Way" is Brittany's first solo album after having been with Jump 5.  I'd say she's off to a good start  :)
Some thoughts on specific songs:
Brittany starts the album off with "Critical", which is a stark reminder of the problems our world faces and the need for faith and action to address them.
My favorite is "Miracle", which contrasts how we see ourselves with how God sees us.   We tend to focus on our shortcomings and what's wrong in our lives,  but God sees His perfect creation in us.
 "I believe in You"  has a great beat and professes her faith in, and worship of , God.  This is followed by how when she was looking for a spark, God lit it "Like a Fire" within her
"He Can" is a blend of encouragement and faith that when we can't, He can!
Brittany has employed a consistent style and upbeat tempo  throughout the album which allows her to highlight her extensive vocal abilities.  It was a pleasure listening to, and I look forward to her next work!

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Review of "John Paul II; The Man, The Pope, and His Message"

Review of John Paul II; The Man, The Pope, and His Message
By Alberto Michelini
Leticia Velasquez
Catholic Media Review.
Volume 8 I Am Your Voice: The Pope on Human Rights
Catholics have long enjoyed the work of papal videographer, Alberto Michelini. Now under a special arrangement with the Vatican, what was formerly available on video has been converted to a four DVD set containing five hours of dramatic documentary footage, organized by topic into ten 30 minute films. Each film focuses on a different aspect of the pontificate of Blessed John Paul; including youth, children, the poor, the family, Marian devotion, historic events, a day in the papal apartments, and the working world. The series is available in English, French, and Spanish.  The companion website for this DVD set has free downloads of companion discussion guides for leaders and participants for each volume with tools for group discussion. This makes this series an ideal tool for teachers to use in Catholic school, CCD, and parish adult ed programs. Study groups could use these films in private homes. Homeschooling mothers from the JPII Generation will find this ideal for teaching their children about the legacy of Blessed John Paul.

Volume 8 “I Am Your Voice” is the powerful film on human rights; Pope John Paul is seen interacting with and addressing poor, sick and persecuted people from every corner of the globe.  A heartbreaking cry of misery is documented in this film; from the slums of Latin America and Calcutta, the prairies of Canada, the plazas of South Korea, the Australian Outback, the savannahs of Africa, and the shipyards of Gdansk. The desperation of the members of the human family who are callously denied basic human dignity are heard by the man who himself suffered under two oppressive regimes.  South Americans who are living forsaken in squalid slums while neighbors enjoy luxury, occupying land was stolen from them. African lepers whom the government has forgotten, living in filth, workers who are deprived of just wages and political freedom, aboriginal tribes whose numbers are decimated yet remain proud of their culture. The Pope listens to their pleas with love and tells them “The Church hears your voice”
He responds to such pain with tears of compassion, embracing the disconsolate and dying, and railing with righteous indignation at the perpetrators of injustice at the rich who ignore the hunger of the poor, and the violence between protesters and police in Chile while he shouts to the multitude, “Love is stronger, Love is stronger!” John Paul speaks unflinchingly in defense of human rights at the United Nations in 1979, attempting to awaken the powerful of the world from the somnolence of egotism. He prays with profound sorrow at the grave of murdered Polish priest and Solidarity activist Fr Jerzy Popieluszko. Not taking sides for political purposes, as he is often accused of doing, the Pope is consistently on the side of the downtrodden, pointing out that the Church cannot be silent when human dignity is at stake.
During this moving footage, the narrator adds context to the scenes, and quotes from John Paul’s numerous encyclicals dealing with social justice; allowing viewers to grow in understanding of the Church’s position on human rights issues, as a preferential option for the poor,  while avoiding the errors of Liberation Theology. He says that Christ came that we might have life abundantly, yet does not favor one political solution over another, rather, he attempts to stir the consciences of those in charge of the world’s economic systems, both left and right. For this he receives criticism for “dabbling in politics”.
Today there are protests of increasing intensity around the world, expressing frustration with injustices both political and economic. The Holy Father addressed this in his speech at the United Nations in 1979 when he said, “wars develop when inalienable rights are violated.” His warning was fulfilling the prophetic duty of the Church, to be the voice of the oppressed. He exclaims “the Church cannot be silent when human dignity is at stake”. One of the most emotionally charged moments of this documentary is when John Paul II upbraids his fellow Poles in 1991 in Kielce when he reminds them, shortly after the Solidarity Movement brought freedom to those behind the Iron Curtain and there  was a movement to tell the Church to get out of politics with regard to abortion. He reminded his countrymen that a child is a gift from God.
No human being is forgotten in John Paul’s passionate defense of the dignity of mankind from birth to natural death. These films are compellingly narrated using the best of John Paul II’s encyclicals to educate the public about why Pope John Paul is called the Great and why millions attended his funeral shouting “Santo Subito!”
Don’t miss this outstanding series which offers an unparalleled opportunity to relive this extraordinary pontificate, and grow in your appreciation of the historical legacy of soon to be St John Paul.
In the spirit of the Gospel as well as out selfless Pope, It is “better to give than to receive”, CCC of AMERICA is hosting a contest: JPII They Love You. People who go to the Pope Series website to complete a brief web form in order to enter someone of their choosing to win a DVD set (valued at $49.99). They will have only 50 words or less to say why they are entering that particular friend, relative, neighbor, CCD teacher, Priest, etc to win a copy of the series.
More information may be found at this website;

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Book Review: Cooper and Me by Monique and Alexa Peters

This is the Story of a little girl who is nervous about her first day of school.  She can't bring her beloved dog Cooper with her, but she doesn't like going without him.  Fortunately, her mother comes up with a solution that lets her bring a "little Cooper" with her.  Then, she is looking forward to school and making new friends.
Written by Monique Peters and her daughter Alexa, kids will be able to relate to this story:  Many kids are nervous about the first day of school, for various reasons.  This book helps it seem less scary for them.
Children with find it entertaining and encouraging.
"Disclosure of Material Connection: I received one or more of the products or services
mentioned above for free in the hope that I would mention it on my blog. Regardless, I
only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.
I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255:
"Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Book Review: "A Book of Saints for Catholic Moms"

A Book of Saints for Catholic Moms: 52 Companions for Your Heart, Mind, Body, and Soul (Ave Maria Press)
by Lisa M. Hendey
Notre Dame: Ave Maria Press, 2011

There are many wonderful books about Catholic saints available. Most of you probably own some of them. Perhaps you even have some collecting dust in your home. They looked so interesting, but you never found the time to read them. So, why should you purchase another one? Because in the new “A Book of Saints for Catholic Moms,” Lisa Hendey has put together a very inspiring, practical guide to the saints designed especially for Catholic mothers.

Hendey, the founder of, wrote this book as the follow-up to her best selling “The Handbook for Catholic Moms.” In that book, she focused on the “importance of nurturing ourselves as moms in four components of our lives: heart, mind, body, and soul.” In this resource, she has profiled 52 saints and highlighted which of those four components they speak to in our lives. This book can be used on a week by week basis with the focus being on one saint per week, or one may simply wish to focus on a saint that speaks to whatever area of one’s life is in need of a little extra help at the moment.

For each saint, Hendey offers a variety of topics: a brief biographical sketch, reflections on lessons learned from the saint, popular traditions associated with him or her, a quote from the saint, a week’s worth of Scripture verses that are associated with the spirit of that holy person, activities to do either alone or with your children, a prayer asking for the saint’s intercession, and questions to ponder throughout the week. Of course, one is under no obligation to do or reflect on all of that information, but it is good to have options. Each person reading this book will find something that appeals to her and her preferred way of learning and praying.

The variety of saints that Hendey profiles should also be noted. Beginning with our Blessed Mother, “the first and best Catholic mom,” she includes many of the well-known saints you may already know and love, such as Teresa of Avila, Sebastian, Maria Goretti, Patrick, Martha of Bethany, John Paul II, and Mother Teresa of Calcutta. But, she does seem to have made a concerted effort to focus on saints that are less well-known. It is possible that readers may find some new friends in the communion saints as they read and reflect on individuals such as Josephine Bakhita, Isidore of Seville, Louis and Marie-Azelie Martin, Chiara “Luce” Badano, and AndrĂ© Bessette.

In “A Book of Saints for Catholic Moms,” Lisa Hendey has compiled and created a very useful and inspirational book. It can be used alone, with your family, or as part of a Catholic women’s book club. No matter how it is used, your life will be enriched as a result.

- Patrice Fagnant-MacArthur

Friday, October 14, 2011

Where to find wholesome Catholic youth literature

Do you realize that our youths are facing a darkness of epic proportions? Go to any bookstore and what do you see offered on the children’s/YA shelves? Darkness, the occult, evil. The covers are all black, creepy. Either that or the characters are in skimpy clothing. This is what our youths have to choose from today when they are in the mood for a good book. And some parents are so thrilled that their children are actually reading instead of texting or playing video games, that they either look the other way or bury their heads in the sand. It’s reading, after all. It can’t be that bad, right?

Wrong! If we want to teach our children about God, about values, about standing up for the truth and the precious gift of LIFE, then we need to give them the tools they need: Spiritual armor to fight the battle. Knowledge about our faith. The difference between good and evil. Instead, they are being sent out to fight the battle after reading about vampires, witchcraft and the occult, and stories that celebrate immodesty, disobedience, selfishness, pride, and teen sex.

As a publishing industry insider and award-winning children’s author for pre-teens, I see too often how our kids are being led into the darkness. Much of the material publishers are offering is unhealthy for their spiritual, emotional, and physical development. Harvey House Publishing was founded to provide our children with material worthy of their great dignity and also the tools they need to live joyful, happy lives of true Christian witness. Our precious youth need good, solid role models in order to fight the good fight: The Saints!

Children respond strongly to being introduced to St. Therese, a sweet, yet very powerful saint they can identify with and emulate, who can intercede for these youngsters and pray for them as they make their way through adolescence.

Olivia and the Little Way and its pro-life sequel, Olivia's Gift, are being used in Catholic-school curricula across the U.S., as well as homeschools , Catholic clubs and church groups. Pre-teen readers, teachers, and parents are raving about the series, and are eagerly anticipating the third book in the series.

"While Olivia's Gift is a Catholic story by nature, this is a story of the human spirit and the fact that teenagers and young adults are already experiencing their own profound stories of faith and God...It is a refreshing and realistic reprieve from what teenagers today are currently very distracted by—vampires,” says the Catholic Press Association.

A mom of two pre-teens writes, "I've searched so long for truly Catholic fiction for the preteen set: a fun story that teaches values. I have finally found it in these books! My children are now following the Little Way and love St. Therese. Thank you!”

The next time you are at the bookstore or library, take a good, hard look at what our youths have to choose from, and remember a quote from one of the greatest saints of modern times and Doctor of the Church, The Little Flower: "My sword is Love, and with it I must drive out the stranger from the land, and establish Thy kingdom in souls."
Nancy Carabio Belanger
Publisher, Harvey House Publishing

Punky a cartoon with an exceptional star

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Interview with Emilio Estevez, Director of "The Way"

Interview with Emilio Estevez
Director and actor in “The Way”
by Leticia Velasquez
Catholic Media Review

Velasquez: My fans are very enthusiastic that they are going to hear from you and hear your side of the story behind “The Way”.
Estevez: Excellent.

Velasquez: Would you tell us about your own personal faith journey?
Estevez: I grew up in a house, where, as a boy, we lived in New York City for six years, my mother was raised Southern Baptist, and my father was a devout Catholic. And, as a boy, I heard nothing but arguments about religion, and it was very, very confusing to me, and, as a result it left a very distasteful feeling for me. Where I finally ended up, is that all of the children were Baptized, but we were not practicing Catholics, in fact, my father fell away from the Church for quite some time, and then came back in 1981, there was a reconversion. So, for me, this has been a long journey, my mother likes to call me a work in progress. And I am that, and I think the film is a reflection of my spiritual journey. Its often said that the proof is in the pudding, but I like to say that its in the eating of the pudding. And if you’ve seen the film then its pretty clear where I’m at in my spiritual path.

Velasquez: How does the Camino figure into your personal story? I understand you’ve walked it.
Estevez: We spent a lot of time on it, my son lives in Spain. He was traveling to Spain with my father in 2003. And they stopped on the Camino in a town called Burgos. And my son met a gal, and fell in love, and he married her years later. He’s been married about 8 ½ years. So I obviously have a close connection to Spain through my son. But also through my grandfather; he was from the North of Spain, from Galicia. And I dedicate the film to my grandfather, Francisco, whose presence I felt every day, every step of the way, not only through the planning of the film, and in the shooting of it, and obviously as we’re continuing our American pilgrimage now, the spirit of my grandfather is very strong in my life.

Velasquez: I remember your father sharing how it was very moving to him when he saw the dedication to your grandfather for the first time at the screening. So what do you hope that your audience takes away from “The Way”?
Estevez: We live in a very interesting time. Our culture, and especially the media, whether its mainstream or commercial media, the message they’re sending every day is “take this pill, you’ll be happier” or “go on this diet, you’ll be thinner and happier”, “go visit this plastic surgeon, change the way you look and it will change your life”, “have your teeth whitened and people will love you more.” And its really a bunch of nonsense, because all the things you do which are outward will, I believe, really change you. The change comes from within. And I think the theme of the film is “how about we are OK with being exactly who we are, and we don’t try to change ourselves so that other people love us more. That we are all wonderfully imperfect; that is our common bond. Our wonderful imperfections; we’re these beautiful, gorgeous messes. All of us, myself included, right? And that is really what bonds us.

Velasquez: You described several miracles which took place during the filming?
Estevez: That’s right, first of all, the miracle that the movie got done in the first place. When you look at pictures that are driven by CGI (Computer Generated Images) vulgarity, violence, overt sexuality, its hard to get your message across if it’s a gentle, that’s about people and about relationships, so that was the first miracle, that we actually got this picture completed.
But we were warned against shooting in the north of Spain at the time when we were shooting. They said, “its going to rain every day”,and “you’re never going to make your 40 day schedule”. So, we went out there anyway, and we started rolling. It rained twice, and both days we were filming indoors, doing indoor scenes. It was definitely a blessed shoot!
There was also the miracle of getting access to the cathedral. We were not allowed in, up until 48 hours before we were to film in the cathedral. (Cathedral of Santiago de Campostella) I had the entire crew lighting candles, getting involved with their intentions to allow filming, because. Without getting inside the Cathedral at the end of the film, I  had no ending. I had no movie.

Velasquez: Did you have trouble finding a distributor for the film?
Estevez: What we’ve done is we’ve put together our own studio. There’s a company called BDA here in New York City, who were responsible for releasing the Banksea film last year. The exit through the gift shop??????  So they came on board to help out. We got another company called Arden (?)releasing. They’ve been very helpful in securing deals with AMC Theatres and with the Walmart retail chain. We also have a contract with Comcast. So what we’ve done is create partnerships, built the studio without the brick and mortar, if you will, and bring consultants on from every walk of life to help us get this message out, get the theatres, and make sure the advertisements get on the air and the newspapers. It’s been an education that I didn’t ask for, these last couple of years, buts its been absolutely invaluable.

Velasquez: And you’re marketing the film with your father (Martin Sheen) in a coast to coast tour.
Estevez: That’s right, we’re on a tour bus, we don’t have a $50 million ad campaign but we have a $ 50,000 bus. We’re on it every day, we started six weeks ago, from California, and set out for the East Coast, and we’ve arrived here (NY). We’re going to head back, I believe on Sunday, we’re going to go to Toronto for a bit, head over to Ann Arbor, Indianapolis, and I think we’re going to end in Cincinnati on Friday. So we have another week on the road, and then we’ll head back to LA and do some LA press.
Its been very exciting. We’ve been screening the film and doing Q&A’s  in each town, sometimes two a night and its been very gratifying. The people who attend are given a microphone and are free to ask any question they like. We don’t pre-screen anybody, and people have been giving testimony, been witnessing. And saying “thank you for making this film”and “thanks for making something that we want to see”.

Velasquez: Did making this film draw you closer to your dad?
Estevez: He and I are very close, my mother and father are together 50 years, we live right down the street. So we are close in proximity and close in our hearts. I consider them my best friends, and the film is really an extension of that and it was a joy to put it on film.
(Martin Sheen plays Emilio’s father in “The Way”)

Velasquez: My readers are very grateful that you made a film showing the Church in a positive light and giving the unborn a voice. We want to know what’s next for you?
Estevez: I’m thinking about a family sports themed film in the tradition of “Mighty Ducks”.  I’ve written a film about the world of competitive harness racing which I’m a fan of, so that may be next. I’m potentially shooting that next year.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Pre-orders for my book "A Special Mother is Born" are now being accepted!

Great news for those of you who have been wondering when the books will be available!
WestBow Press has informed me that my books are coming within three weeks!

I am taking  pre-orders here on my blog, as well as on my other blogs, Causa Nostrae Laetitiae, Cause of Our Joy, A Special Mother is Born and Keep Infants with Down Syndrome. .

Just click  the paypal button in the margin on the right and leave your shipping information and your secure payment of $22.50 ($19.95 plus $2.55 shipping for a total of $22.50) by credit or debit card, and I will ship your book to your home in one month.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Book Review: "Agent Undercover" by Lynette Eason

DEA agent Paige Ashworth is undercover, investigating murders that may be related to a drug ring.   She tries to protect the victim's son, Will, who may know something about it,  but hasn't spoken since his mother was killed.  Soon Paige finds herself not only caring about Will, but also being attracted to his uncle, Dr. Dylan Seabrook.  It isn't long before all three find themselves in real danger.    Although Paige hasn't prayed in some time,  she finds herself asking God for help and guidance as she tries to protect Will and find a killer.
 I enjoy Christian-themed mysteries, and Ms. Eason has delivered a well-written,  suspenseful story; she demonstrates that you can write a good mystery without the sordid and objectionable content that is so prevalent in today's media.
I highly recommend!

Interview with Robert Guillaume, the voice of Rafiki in "The Lion King"

"The Lion King" has just been released in 3D as part of a Blu-ray/DVD set.

Velasquez:  My readers remember you best as “Benson” and wanted to tell you they enjoyed it. What was your favorite TV series?
Guillaume: My favorite show was “Soap”. I felt that the character was outrageous. There was something about it that was free-swinging. That doesn’t mean that I didn’t enjoy doing “Benson”. I felt that “Benson” was a little curtailed.
Velasquez: So you started out on stage after the Army. How did you get into acting in the first place?
Guillaume; When I was a kid in school I would always sing. I found a voice. I was a singer. When I was looking around and saying, “Well, what do I do?” I was in my twenties, I had this idea, I said, “well, maybe I should go on the stage.” I couldn’t see myself becoming a doctor or lawyer or that sort of thing. And I gave that (acting) a thought. And I though about it long enough to continue in that direction.
Another thing that I almost went into was writing. I loved writing.
Velasquez: That’s great that you pursued your dream.
Guillaume: I was lucky that the industry gave me encouragement. I was there (Broadway) for 15 years.
Velasquez: You toured the world in “Guys and Dolls”
Guillaume: I did enough touring in my time.
Velasquez: One of my favorite roles of yours is as the Dr Napier the school superintendent in “Lean on Me”. I was a teacher when that came out, and watched it every year before school began.
Guillaume: Oh, I had a great time doing that! Do you remember the argument between Morgan and me? We were allowed to improvise it, and one thing led to another and we were going at it, and we worked it up to a fever pitch. We worked it up to the point where in any other situation we would have to go to war, to fisticuffs. We really didn’t know how to end it. We felt “how do we get out of this?” So I said, “come on man, let’s get some lunch”. It was a way of taking the tension out of the scene with a little humor
Velasquez: That was an amazing scene. I appreciate the diversity of characters you have played. Was that deliberate?
Guillaume: I don’t know how that happened; I wanted to do different things. I was never comfortable thinking the same thing over and over.
Velasquez: You never seemed to be typecast. For example, you were the voice for Rafiki in “The Lion King”. How did you come up with that voice?
Guillaume: Well, we talked about it, since I could only act with my voice. We said, “What would a monkey sound like?”
Velasquez: It’s a very distinctive voice.
Guillaume: It was something I had been clowning around with at parties and with my wife. I would answer in that voice, it always tickled me,
Velasquez: We loved to imitate Rafiki’s voice in our house too!
Guillaume: (laughs) Oh yeah?
Velasquez: So did you mind it when “Lion King 1 ½” poked fun at the wisdom of Rafiki?
Guillaume: No, no.
Velasquez: You stayed with the role of Rafiki for three movies, seven cartoons and even video games. That was one of your most enduring characters. You’ve been acting for half a century. What are some of the changes that you’ve seen in Hollywood?
Guillaume: Well, I’m not sure. . .  Particularly, I wanted to be more aware of the impression they were making on young black people. I think we’ve finally got to that place.
Velasquez: What films have convinced you of that?
Guillaume: Well, many of the films Denzel (Washington) has done and Laurence Fishburne, I know I’m leaving people out. Some of that work is impeccable.
Velasquez: So you didn’t want the stereotyping of black youth or the bad examples?
Guillaume: Yeah, I wanted to try and get away from that. It was within our power to change things, to inspire black youth to see the world in a much broader way than previous characters played by black people. 
Velasquez: Do you have any comment on the moral climate of Hollywood overall?
Guillaume: No I think its pretty much the same as its always been, lackadaisical morally.
Velasquez: I see that lately you’ve been doing narration for a lot of children’s film, fairy tale narration.  
Guillaume: When I was coming up, I remember feeling left out of fairy tales. My images were images of white people, if you will.  I don’t want to sound like I’m on some great kick, but I was only interested in changing what I could.
Velasquez: Disney just did a version of “The Princess Frog” based in New Orleans in the twenties, using black characters. It’s a delightful film.
Guillaume: Yes.
Velasquez: A study came out that children are watching media for 7 ½ hours per day. So the role of the actor is even more important. Children spend more time listening to actors than their parents, with earphones in most of the time. Are you involved in any electronic media?
Guillaume: I don’t participate in anything that happened after 1920!
Velasquez: What would you like to consider your legacy?

Guillaume: You take me too far afield to talk of legacy and all that. If I did something which influenced people of my era, I’m very happy. 

Monday, October 3, 2011

Francis Woke Up Early

Written by Josephine Nobisso
Illustrated by Maureen Hyde

One of the most vivid childhood memories is sitting in my parish church, gazing up at a large fresco of the Child Jesus and St Joseph working in their carpentry shop. I wondered what the pair discussed amid the rasping of their tools and fragrant wood shavings. My childish faith imagination helped me forge a deep bond with the young Jesus and St Joseph which has never left me.
The same bond is recreated in “Francis Woke Up Early”. No saint outside of the Bible is as widely known as St Francis of Assisi, yet he can be little more than a garden statue in children’s minds. “Francis Woke Up Early” gives children a chance to enter into a day in the life of the child Francis. This is not a biography; it’s a meditation on the character of the boy who became a saint. “Francis woke up Early” helps children see that all saints began life like them, seeking outdoor adventures, and loving their family, yet, his future spiritual greatness is foreshadowed in this enchanting book.

What is best known about Francis is his bond with animals, particularly his sermon to the birds and his befriending the fierce wolf of Gubbio. Using these events as inspiration, author Josephine Nobisso paints a charming yet thoughtful portrait of the young saint. Imagine a sunny morning, which awakened Francis at dawn, and coaxed him to venture outdoors past a sleeping household in search of a breakfast of goat’s milk, all frothy and warm. Dramatic storytelling paired with brilliant illustrations fires imaginations both young and old, and will lead to many a discussion of the life of St Francis.

Each painting is a work of art worthy of framing; these captivating paintings of Assisi were completed over a period of twenty years by artist Maureen Hyde who provided the idea for the story.

“Francis Woke up Early” will become a family favorite, and would be a delightful Christmas gift for preschool through third grade children.