Syrian War Prompts Calls for Dipping Into Doomsday Seed Storage Vault


Syrian War Prompts Calls for Dipping Into Doomsday Seed Storage Vault

By Burt Carey

Forget those Hollywood portrayals of doomsday preppers building fortified bunkers, storing food and other supplies, and hoarding cases upon cases of ammunition in preparation of post-Armageddon survival. There’s a real
Aleppo, Syria, International Center for Agricultural Research, Svalbard Global Seed Vault, “doomsday” facility, ICARDA, war, food backup, seed bankdoomsday vault above the Arctic Circle on a Norwegian island about 800 miles from the North Pole that stores more than 850,000 stocks of seed for grains and other crops around the world, and it’s being tapped for the first time.

Fighting in and near Aleppo, Syria, has caused officials from the International Center for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas (ICARDA) to request a withdrawal of seed samples it provided to the Svalbard Global Seed Vault, marking the first request of its type.

Aleppo’s occupation by armed factions is preventing experts from continuing their work developing and conserving seeds to grow cereals with resistance to drought and warm global temperatures. That’s one of the reasons the doomsday vault was opened in an abandoned mine in 2008.

The Svalbard Global Seed Vault was built on the Norwegian island of Spitsbergen, near Longyearbyen in the Arctic Svalbard archipelago. Deep inside a mountain, permafrost guarantees the frozen preservation of a wide variety of plant seeds that are duplicates of samples held in gene banks throughout the world. While the vault is commonly referred to as a “doomsday” facility, its very existence is an attempt at insuring against the loss of grains and other food-producing seeds due to large-scale regional or global crises.

Reuters reported that the seeds requested by researchers include samples of wheat, barley and grasses suited to dry regions to replace seeds in a gene bank near Aleppo that has been damaged by the war. Grethe Evjen, of the Norwegian Agriculture Ministry, said the seeds had been requested by ICARDA, which moved its headquarters from Aleppo to Beirut in 2012 because of the war.

ICARDA reportedly asked for nearly 130 boxes out of 325 it has in the vault, containing some 116,000 samples. It hopes to reproduce the samples at its facilities at American University in Beirut, and in Morocco.

“We are, of course, very sad and frustrated at the situation in Aleppo, but at the same time it shows that having a backup facility is important and it works,” said Asmund Asdal, who runs the vault on behalf of the Nordic Genetic Resources Center. “We hoped that we would never get such a request. Ideally, all the world’s seed gene banks would function normally but, of course, we are prepared for this.”

“These seeds are very valuable to the world,” ICARDA’s Director-General Mahmoud Solh told NBC News. “It is an important source for breeding programs, particularly for crops that have drought immunity or are resistant to the hotter temperatures we are getting because of global warming.”

The Svalbard seed bank has 865,871 samples from every country in the world, Asdal said, including countries that no longer exist. Before the facility was built in an abandoned coal mine, a feasibility study determined that the vault could preserve seed for most major food crops for hundreds of years.

Syria’s civil war has killed a quarter of a million people since 2011 and driven 11 million more from their homes, according to United Nations estimates.

History points to the importance of seed banks in general, and the Svalbard vault in particular. Seed gene banks in Iraq and Afghanistan were destroyed during wars in those countries, and a seed bank in the Philippines suffered damage due to flooding and then was destroyed by a fire. There are 1,750 seed banks around the world.


Source:  Sportsmans Lifestyle

Tour Championship, FedEx Cup Winner, World’s No. 1 Golfer, Jordan Spieth


Tour Championship, FedEx Cup Winner, World’s No. 1 Golfer, Jordan Spieth

By Burt Carey

At just 22 years of age, Jordan Spieth is professional golf’s first $22 million man.

That’s what happens when a player wins five tournaments in a year, including two majors, the PGA Tour championship and the FedEx Cup.

Jordan Spieth, World’s No. 1 Golfer, Golf, PGA Player of the Year, FedEx Cup, Open ChampionshipWhen he sank his par putt on No. 18 at Atlanta’s East Lake Golf Club this past Sunday to finish at 9-under par 271, Spieth became the youngest player in 86 years to win five tournaments in a season. Horton Smith, a two-time Masters champion and winner of 32 PGA Tour events, won eight tournaments in 1929 when he was just 21 years old.

After winning the Masters in Augusta and the U.S. Open at a tricky Chambers Bay, Spieth gave serious chase to the Grand Slam only to come up a shot short of a playoff at the Open Championship. He finished second to a red-hot Jason Day at the PGA Championship. He joins Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods as the only players to have finished no worse than fourth at all four modern majors in a given year.

Spieth’s wins also propelled him to another record: most money won during a season. He took home $12,030,465, bettering Vijay Singh’s $10.9 million earned in 2004. And there’s a FedEx Cup bonus of $10 million coming his way, as well, making him golf’s first $22 million man.

He won the Vardon Trophy for recording the year’s lowest scoring average: 68.938. Spieth ranked first on tour in one-putts per round, and second in percentage of putts made from 15 to 25 feet.

He’s first in the Official World Golf Ranking.

Oh, and on Monday Spieth was named the PGA Player of the Year.

Not bad for a guy who missed the cuts in two of the four FedEx Cup playoff tournaments. What was the difference? He prepared for the Tour Championship at East Lake like it was important.

“We approached Atlanta like a major championship,” Spieth said. “The whole year has been about majors and I consider this to be a fifth one at the end. I said in New York (before The Barclays), ‘Everything now is to prepare to peak in Atlanta.’”

He was the first to arrive in Atlanta, and he and caddy Michael Greller met with swing instructor Cameron McCormick of Brook Hollow Golf Club in Dallas. After some adjustment to his putting game, Spieth struck out to test Bobby Jones’ home course, taking notice that none of the other 27 players scheduled to compete there were anywhere in sight.

Strike up a mental victory for Team Spieth. Only there’s more to his team than a swing coach and a caddy. It’s his family, girlfriend, fitness instructor, and a loyal group of Jesuit prep classmates who keep this walking golf highlight reel grounded. It helps that Spieth is one of the most humble professional athletes anywhere.


Source:  Sportsmans Lifestyle




Powerful Portrait of Nobel Prize-Winning Teen Illustrates Indomitability of the Human Spirit


He Named Me Malala

Film Review by Kam Williams

Powerful Portrait of Nobel Prize-Winning Teen Illustrates Indomitability of the Human Spirit

Malala Yousafzai was named after a girl who spoke out and was killed for speaking out. That folk hero was a flag-bearing teenager who perished in 1880 while rallying fellow Pashtun resistance fighters to an unlikely victory over British invaders in a pivotal battle of the Second Anglo-Afghan War.He Named Me Malala, Film Review, Nobel Peace Prize Winner, Malala Yousafzai

After settling on the very meaningful moniker, Malala’s father inscribed it into his genealogy  because no females were mentioned in his family tree stretching back several centuries. Furthermore, Ziauddin Yousafzai resolved to raise his daughter to see herself as the equal of any boy.

While such an approach might be unremarkable in the West, it was downright heretical  in the Swat District of Pakistan, a hotbed of Islamic fundamentalism in the late 20th Century. For, over the course of Malala’s formative years, much of the country was being terrorized by the Taliban which had taken to blowing up any schools which had the temerity to admit girls.

In defiance of their militant mullah’s absolute mandate against any female education, Mr. Yousafzai not only allowed his daughter to matriculate, but even spurred her to speak out online as an equal rights advocate blogger. This only served to infuriate Mullah Fazlullah who issued a fatwa against her over the radio, which led to an assassination attempt on a school bus by one of his followers.

Malala, who was just 15 at the time, was lucky to survive the bullet to the brain.  While she languished in the hospital unresponsive and attached to tubes, her worried folks had no idea whether their daughter would ever even be able to walk or talk again.

She did eventually emerge from the coma, though deaf in one ear and in need of months and months of rehabilitation just to master simple bodily functions most people take for granted. Initially, she blamed her dad for her plight, since he was the one who’d cultivated her activist streak. “I am a child,” she said, “You are my father. You should have stopped me. What happened to me is because of you.”

But eventually her health was substantially restored, and she became a stoic and serene symbol of resistance to radical Islam. With continued death threats hanging over their heads, the Yousafzai family (including Malalal’s mom and two younger brothers) was forced to resettle in England where she would become a champion of oppressed females all over the planet.He Named Me Malala, Film Review, Nobel Peace Prize Winner, Malala Yousafzai

Directed by Oscar-winner Davis Guggenheim.(for An Inconvenient Truth), He Named Me Malala is an emotionally-engaging biopic chronicling the close father-daughter relationship which enabled Malala to flourish in the midst of sheer intolerance. Their tender interplay is intermittently enhanced by animated interludes which further intensifies the sincere sentiment displayed on screen.

The picture makes an inexorable march to Malala’s emergence as an international icon, culminating in her becoming the youngest person ever to win the Nobel Peace Prize. Pack the Kleenex for this powerful portrait ably illustrating the indomitability of the human spirit.

Easily, the best film of 2015 thus far!

Excellent (4 stars)

Rated  PG-13 for death threats, mature themes and disturbing images

Running time: 87 minutes

Distributor: Fox Searchlight Pictures

He Named Me Malala opens in select theaters on October 2nd, and then on over 2,000 screens a week later on October 9th.

Source:  Baret News

The Fork Appeared in the Road


The Fork Appeared in the Road

~ Amy Lignor


People have spoken constantly this past week about the immense amount of clichés that were created from the mouth of this incredible man. He was quoted more often than any President or statesman this country has ever had, yet Yogi Berra was far more than a man who said things that the lot of us will repeat for the rest of time; Yogi Berra was, first and foremost, a baseball legend.


Yogi Berra, baseball legends, “It ain’t over ’til it’s over”Passing away at ninety years of age, the pain and heartbreak of hearing that Yogi was gone was felt all over the world. Not just in the sports community, but by all different types of people. People who, for some unknown reason, had actually come to believe that the man who stated: “It ain’t over ’til it’s over,” was actually never going to be over, himself.


Humility is a gift which Yogi owned outright. He was one of the kindest people in sports (a trait which is almost impossible to find nowadays). He was not constantly talking about money. He wasn’t sitting out games until his contract would give him millions more. No. He was a man who lived for his family, team, and country. He actually served in the U.S. Navy during one of the most horrendous moments of this country’s history. During WWII, Yogi was a part of landing on the beaches at Normandy, yet never spoke a word about it; nor did he want congratulations or to be hailed as the kind, witty, legendary man he was.


But instead of thinking about the words he spoke, it is important to honor his baseball career, which was immense. Take away DiMaggio for a moment. Take away Mantle. There are huge baseball legends that will be remembered for all time, yet Yogi outshone them all. Which is a fact that many do not know because the others were a bit more “hailed” or “spotlighted” for their off the field antics than Yogi was.


Yogi was a quiet individual who can claim ten World Series rings. Ten. More than anyone else who ever played baseball. This occurred in his eighteen seasons with the beloved Yankees, and whether he went as a player, manager or coach, Yogi went to that grand World Series stage twenty-one times in total. A record that no one will ever match or surpass.


Yogi also remains one of only two baseball catchers who won the most MVP Awards. He also was an All-Star in fifteen seasons. But when it comes to data and facts, Yogi has a truly amazing period on his record where he led the entire league when it came to catches made in every one of his seasons.


Yogi will be seen in the tapes by everyone who studies them as that “bad-ball” hitter who was the player in the league known for being absolutely impossible to strike out. He was one of the best defensive backstops in the league, as well. During a time when players had more courage to do things in order to win a game, Yogi was the one who took base-stealers and threw out almost 50% of them.


The courage and toughness of Yogi cannot be beat. Without the “help” of drugs or extra-special workouts, Yogi was simply a man who loved the game. He was not even on a mission, Yogi just made sure that his Yankees – a team he loved like family – would find themselves at the end holding the trophy as often as humanly possible. He was a man’s man and a great friend to his teammates. A man that no matter what generation you came from touched your life in some way.


He said so many things, but his actions and his love of baseball outweighed his words. It was nice of him to create a legacy that all young people who are dreaming of playing on that diamond one day can witness. They also can revel in the fact that loving the game is what is most important when it comes to being a success. Baseball was what made up Yogi’s core. And he will continue to teach those coming up in the ranks his extremely valuable lessons.


All we can do is hope that the generations that follow will take the dollar signs out of their eyes long enough to learn that to win, thrive and achieve, takes humility, strength, and a Yogi love of the game.


R.I.P. Sir. You will be missed.

Yogi Berra, baseball legends, “It ain’t over ’til it’s over”

Source:  Baret News

Beauty Takes to the Skies at the International Balloon Festival


Beauty Takes to the Skies at the International Balloon Festival

~ by Amy Lignor


The World’s Premiere Hot Air Balloon Event is gearing up in Albuquerque once again, and the news for this global occasion (October 3rd-11th) is everywhere. People from all corners of the world are already setting up at the place: “Where Dreams Take Flight.”

No, this is not a New Mexico event, although the culture, beauty and history of the area is a part of the Fiesta. For those who have not yet attended this unforgettable annual meet, it will be interesting to learn that this actually started out as a far smaller Balloon Fiesta back in 1972. What began as a simple conversation to highlight the 50th birthday celebration of a local radio show, grew into an event that all cultures, communities and countries rush to attend.

Hot Air Balloons, Albuquerque, New Mexico, "Where Dreams Take Flight", Fiesta, Mass Ascension, Balloon Rides

Up until this point in time, the largest gathering of hot air balloons ever seen in the world had been only nineteen in England. Bad weather, unfortunately, turned the first Fiesta’s twenty-one scheduled balloons into a gathering of only thirteen, not beating the record. But here is where balloonists competed in races. Balloons with the likeness of the Warner Bros. character, the “coyote” competed against each other, with the one coyote that landed closest to the Roadrunner coming away the winner. Don Piccard, a name that is literally a dynasty when it comes to aviation, won that first race back in 1972. Today, however, the Fiesta has grown monumental. Not only are the coyote and the roadrunner still able to be seen, but every character you could possibly think of has joined them. From Darth Vader to Tweety, there are so many characters, shapes and colors of balloons that Albuquerque finds itself injected with a whole new energy.


The Mass Ascension is what boggles the mind, and can be seen on T.V. news programs everywhere you look. During the Mass Ascension, a launch of all the balloons attending create the most spectacular display of sound and color that the entire field of aviation has ever seen. Launching in two separate waves, the balloons lift into the sky at 7:00 AM, with one balloon flying the American flag while The Star Spangled Banner plays, in the lead.


There are many other things to behold during the events. The Special Shape Rodeo, which began in 1989, has become the most popular over time. These Special Shape Rodeo balloons launch in the afternoons and create not only huge crowds, but massive traffic jams. But it really doesn’t matter if you’re stuck in the car when you get to see these incredible creations decorate the world up above you. Twenty-eight shapes participated in the first event, but the Special Shape Rodeo has grown and grown each and every year, with a ridiculous 108 balloons in 1996 (expected this time around: 125). They also glow from the field in the evenings, moments that have earned the title: Special Shape Glowdeo. Just staring at these huge balloons glowing en mass is an experience that lives with you for all time. And above, after the skies have grown even darker, an after-glow fireworks show commences.


For those who want nothing more than to actually get in that basket and soar, the company Rainbow Ryders offers Official Balloon Rides for the Fiesta. As the official ride concession for this, the largest ballooning event in the world, they are the only authorized company to take off from Balloon Fiesta Park. But calling now and reserving a seat in your incredible balloon that should be done now. (First class seats to a world you have never seen before:


People from all nations and backgrounds have already begun to assemble in Albuquerque, as well as the hundreds of artisans, musical guests, chefs supplying the absolute best in food, and the list goes on and on, are already setting up. So if you are among those that seek adventure; look for that ultimate excitement, the only “must” you have on your list is to attend the Fiesta. Watching these unforgettable balloons take flight, and even hitching a ride, cannot be found anywhere else on the planet!


For more information:

Hot Air Balloons, Albuquerque, New Mexico, "Where Dreams Take Flight", Fiesta, Mass Ascension, Balloon Rides

Source:  Baret News

Movie Adaptation of Hit TV Show Now on DVD


DVD Review by Kam Williams                                                                                                     
Movie Adaptation of Hit TV Show Now on DVD                                               

Entourage went off the air in 2011, after enjoying a phenomenal, eight-year run on the HBO Network, thanks to its refreshingly-authentic take on cutthroat world of Hollywood. That  semi-autobiographical TV-series revolving around the irreverent alpha-male antics of a fictional movie star and his posse was inspired by the life of its executive producer, Mark Wahlberg. Directed by the program’s Entourage, DVD Review, HBO, Mark Wahlberg, Doug Ellincreator, Doug Ellin, this eagerly-anticipated, big screen version more than lives up to its legions of loyal fans’ high expectations, between the bawdy, locker room banter and the trademark misogyny we’ve come to expect from the unapologetic bad boys at the center of the story.

Fortunately, the original cast has been reunited, starting with Adrian Grenier as matinee idol Vince Chase. There’s also Kevin Dillon as his big brother, Johnny; Jerry Ferrara as his chauffeur, Turtle; and Kevin Connolly as his manager, Eric, aka E. Besides that tight-knit quartet of BFFs from Queens, Vince’s agent Ari Gold (Jeremy Piven) and Ari’s former, long-suffering assistant, Lloyd (Rex Lee), are among a number of other popular characters reprising their roles.

The picture basically unfolds like an extended rap music video. Think, a decadent celebration of materialism and conspicuous consumption shot against a variety of lavish backdrops littered with a smorgasbord of scantily-clad, fantasy babes who ostensibly exist at the pleasure of powerful males.

At the point of departure, we find each of the protagonists embroiled in relationship drama. Newlywed Vince is eager to have his recent marriage annulled, while playboy E reluctantly attends Lamaze classes with his pregnant, ex-girlfriend, Sloan (Emmanuelle Chriqui). Turtle is hoping to last a half-minute in the ring with MMA Champ Rowdy Ronda Rousey, which is the only way she’d agree to a date. And Johnny comes to regret sexting with a virtual stranger when TMZ gets a hold of the embarrassing video.

Entourage, DVD Review, HBO, Mark Wahlberg, Doug Ellin

Flamboyant Lloyd is planning an elaborate gay wedding featuring glass dildos as centerpieces,  and he wants his ex-boss to give him away to fiance Greg Louganis. Trouble is, Ari is now a studio exec, and he’s obsessed with his first picture, a $100 million production being directed by Vince that’s already way over budget.Entourage, DVD Review, HBO, Mark Wahlberg, Doug Ellin

Never taking itself seriously, all of the above is played purely for laughs, including a profusion of fleeting cameo appearances by celebs as themselves: Pharrell, Warren Buffett, Mike Tyson, Common and Gary Busey, to name a few. For example, Liam Neeson is greeted by the feckless foursome at a traffic light with, “Hey, Schindler, leave no Jews behind,” you’re left wondering, what the heck just happened?

Entourage, DVD Review, HBO, Mark Wahlberg, Doug Ellin

Vintage Vince and company having tons of testosterone-fueled fun whether being titillated by bimbos or just roaming aimlessly around a classic convertible.    

Very Good (3 stars)                                                                                                       Rated R for frontal nudity, drug use, graphic sexuality and pervasive profanity    Running time: 106 minutes                                                                                         Distributor: Warner Home Entertainment Group                                                                        Blu-ray/DVD Combo Pack Extras: The Gang: Still Rockin’ It; Hollywood, Baby!; The Making of Hyde; Deleted Scenes; Gag Reel; Meet the Newest Member of Entourage; and Lucas Ellin is Jonah Gold.

To see a trailer for Entourage, visit:

To order the Entourage Blu-ray/DVD Combo Pack, visit: 

Source:  Baret News

Assassin and Teen Make Strange Bedfellows in Unlikely-Buddies Dramedy


Film Review by Kam Williams

Assassin and Teen Make Strange Bedfellows in Unlikely-Buddies Dramedy

Ashby Holt (Mickey Rourke) has just been informed by his doctor (Max Lesser) that he only has a few months to live. Besides putting his personal affairs in order, the terminally-ill retired spy wants to ensure that he’s able to enter the Kingdom of Heaven upon his demise.

ASHBY, Film Review, Mickey Rourke, Max LesserThe problem is that he performed about a hundred hits over the course of his career with the CIA, thereby repeatedly violating the Fifth Commandment: “Thou shalt not kill.” So, as a devout Catholic, he suddenly believes the only way he’ll be able to enter the proverbial Pearly Gates is by seeking forgiveness for his sins.

However, also weighing heavily on Ashby’s conscience is the innocent man he was once tricked into assassinating. And before confessing to Father Ted (Zachary Knighton), he’d first like to exact a measure of revenge on behalf of the victim by taking out the three evil superiors who had knowingly issued that order. Still, given his deteriorating health there’s no way he could probably pull off such a feat on his own.

That’s where Ed Wallis (Nat Wolff) comes in. The nerdy 17 year-old newcomer is sorely in need of a good role model, given how his flaky mother (Sarah Silverman) sleeps around and his absentee-father is entirely out of the picture. Ed’s also having trouble fitting in at Varga Prep where he’s being teased for being a nerd by everyone but equally-geeky Eloise (Emma Roberts).

The plot thickens when he’s handed a school assignment to write a paper about an elder and he approaches his next-door neighbor,  Ashby. The reclusive stranger agrees on the condition that the kid chauffeur him around town, conveniently hiding the fact that Ed will unwittingly be serving as a getaway driver for several grisly murders.

That’s the premise of Ashby, an unlikely-buddies dramedy written and directed by Peter McNamara (The Rage in Placid Lake). The movie unfolds almost like four films in one, since besides the Ed-Ashby dynamic, it devotes considerable attention to Ed’s dysfunctional home life, his budding romance with Eloise, and his attempt to make the football team.

Nevertheless, most of the picture’s tension revolves around whether Ashby will survive long enough to complete his grim tasks. Mickey Rourke proves the best of a very capable cast here, bringing the requisite balance of swagger and vulnerability to lend credibility to the rapidly-expiring title character.

A genre-blending adventure which somehow successfully combines elements of the coming-of-age and last hurrah formulas.

Very Good (3 stars)

Rated R for profanity, violence and some sexuality.

Running time: 100 minutes

Distributor: Paramount Pictures

Source:  Baret News

Retro Doc Revisiting Roots of Rap Fashion Released on DVD

Fresh Dressed                                                                                                                    

DVD Review by Kam Williams       

Retro Doc Revisiting Roots of Rap Fashion Released on DVD                  

When rap arrived back in the late Seventies, more than the music burst on the scene. The performers’ outlandish costumes also had a profound effect on American culture which proceeded to mimic everything from MC Hammer’s balloon pants to Run DMC’s fedoras and Adidas outfits.

Fresh Dressed, DVD Review, Rap, nostalgic tribute, clothing labels, Hip-HopAs the genre matured, the more business-savvy artists opted to capitalize on their influence by launching their own clothing lines. They figured, why send the stock of fashionistas like Ralph Lauren and Tommy Hilfiger through the roof when they could wear their own labels onstage? Subsequently, industry newcomers such as Daymond John’s FUBU and Puff Daddy’s Sean John kick-started brands which became multi-million dollar household names available in fine stores everywhere.

That surprising development is the subject of Fresh Dressed, a visually-captivating celebration of the sartorial splendor which blossomed during the Golden Age of Rap. The fascinating documentary takes a delightful stroll down Memory Lane courtesy of reams of archival footage featuring folks in garish, spray-paint-colored outfits. It also has plenty of  present-day reflections on the phenomenon by plenty of Hip-Hop icons: Nas, Pharrell, Kid, Play and Damon Dash, to name a few.

The movie marks the impressive writing and directorial debut of Sacha Jenkins, who has deftly interwoven all of the above elements into an informative history lesson that’s worth the investment even if you’re not a fan of rap. For instance, you’ll learn how to avoid getting “vicked” (Ebonics for “victimized”) which is a distinct possibility if you’re dumb enough to walk through the ‘hood wearing a pair of the latest Air Jordans.Fresh Dressed, DVD Review, Rap, nostalgic tribute, clothing labels, Hip-Hop

Believe it or not, gangstas build their wardrobe around their sneakers, since looking “fresh” (aka “stylish”) starts with the feet. As Kid reminisces, “People were killed for their shoes,” so “the one thing you never wanted to hear was someone asking you your shoe size.”

Back in the day, if you decided to walk a mile in a man’s moccasins, you meant that literally, not figuratively. Hey, that way, you’d not only have his shoes, but you’d have a decent  head start on the barefoot sucka.

A nostalgic tribute to a materialistic generation weaned on conspicuous consumption where capped gold teeth and gaudy clock necklaces were trendy fashion statements.

Excellent (4 stars)


Running time: 82 minutes

Distributor: Samuel Goldwyn Films

DVD Extras: Additional interviews; and bonus scenes.

To order a copy of Fresh Dressed  on Blu-ray/DVD Combo Pack, visit:

Source:  Baret News

Mixed Me!


Mixed Me!

by Taye Diggs

Illustrated by Shane W. Evans

Feiwel and Friends / An Imprint of Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group

Paperback, $17.99

40 pages, Illustrated

ISBN: 978-1-250-04719-9

Book Review by Kam Williams

“Mike has awesome hair. He has lots of energy! His parents love him. And Mike is a perfect blend of the two of them.

Mixed Me! , Taye Diggs, book review, children's book, Taye Diggs, Shane Evans, mixed lives matterStill, Mike has to answer lots of questions about being mixed. And he does, with lots of energy and joy in this charming story about a day in the life of a mixed-race child.”   

— Excerpted from the Bookjacket

A few years ago, actor Taye Diggs and artist Shane Evans collaborated on “Chocolate Me,” a children’s book about a little boy who was teased by his friends about having skin the color of dirt and hair that made him look like he was scared. That illustrated best-seller received critical acclaim for its sensitive treatment of the emotional impact of taunting on the young mind of an impressionable black child.

Now, Taye and Shane are back on behalf of biracial and any other kids of mixed ancestry with a story highlighting Mike’s struggle to fit in. A medium-complexioned boy with a ginormous orange afro, he’s being bullied at school by classmates who called him “Mixed-Up Mike.” They also make fun of the fact that his parents supposedly don’t match, since one is much darker-skinned than the other.

Fortunately, Mike’s parents have prepared their son for this sort of mistreatment. And he responds by saying that he isn’t mixed-up but a “just right” and “beautiful blend of dark and light.”

An uplifting affirmation of the notion that mixed lives matter, too!

To order a copy of Mixed Me!, visit:

To order a copy of Chocolate Me!, visit:

Shane W. Evans Photo Credit: Gary Spector

Shane W. Evans
Photo Credit: Gary Spector

Tay Diggs

Tay Diggs

Taye Shane Chocolate Me

Source:  Baret News

Melissa McCarthy Fish-Out-of-Water Comedy Comes to DVD


DVD Review by Kam Williams

Melissa McCarthy Fish-Out-of-Water Comedy Comes to DVD

For the past three years, Susan Cooper (Melissa McCarthy) has been stuck sitting behind a desk as an analyst at CIA Headquarters in Langley, Virginia. In that capacity, she’s been providing technical support from afar to Bradley Fine (Jude Law), a veteran spy who has successfully handled a series of dangerous missions over the course of a decorated career. Serving as his eyes and ears via hidden cameras and listening devices, the 40 year-old spinster’s been quite content to live vicariously through her dashing colleague, especially given the big crush she has on him.Spy, DVD Review, Melissa McCarthy, Langley, Virginia, Jude Law

Everything changes the day he’s murdered while attempting to secure a suitcase bomb about to fall into the wrong hands. Susan subsequently pressures her reluctant boss (Allison Janney) to be allowed to replace her late partner in the search for the the assassin as well as the rogue nuclear device.

Elaine is understandably reluctant, since this would be the plump pencil pusher’s very first field assignment. Nonetheless, she grudgingly gives Susan a new identity (“Carol Jenkins”), before issuing strict orders about keeping a low profile and about observing but never confronting any of the bad guys she encounters overseas.

Needless to say, the rules of engagement are out the window just as soon as Susan’s plane lands in Paris. She blows her matronly tourist cover by coming to the assistance of a fellow agent (Jason Statham) unaware that he’s in imminent peril. Between the loose-lipped loudmouth’s need for attention and her appetite whetted for more action, there’s little hope of getting the subtle surveillance genie back in the bottle.

Thus unfolds Spy, the latest collaboration between Melissa McCarthy and writer/director Paul Feig. This film pales in comparison to either Bridesmaids (2011) or The Heat (2013), perhaps because, here, Melissa has been asked to carry the comedy load alone. In Bridesmaids, she shared those duties with a talented ensemble; and in The Heat, her pairing with Sandra Bullock worked to perfection.

By contrast, this picture definitely has its moments, yet one tires of the tendency to rely on Melissa to generate laughs by way of her trademark trash-talk. Those vulgar comments were funny when delivered as unexpected asides in Bridesmaids. Now, they sort of fall flat when exposed as the only material a one-trick pony might have to offer.Spy, DVD Review, Melissa McCarthy, Langley, Virginia, Jude Law

A Melissa McCarthy vehicle recommended for fans with a big appetite for her crude, expletive-laced brand of humor.  

Good (2 stars)                                                                                                                Rated R for sexuality, brief nudity, violence and pervasive profanity                                       In English, French, Italian and German with subtitles                                                 Running time: 120 minutes                                                                                                     Distributor: Fox Home Entertainment                                                                                DVD Extras: Top Secret Gag Reel; Extra Top secret Behind-the-Scenes Gag Reel; Susan and Her Men; The Great Rick Ford, Gallery; and the Director’s Commentary Track.

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Source:  Baret News