Aug
18
2014

Highlands Times: Outlander Series Starts August 24th

Will you be watching the premiere of Outlander?

Highlands Times: Outlander Series Starts August 24th

Time travel is messy. Outlander on STARZ and Showcase

On a scale of bodice laces ripped, I am popping all my grommets for the Canadian premiere of Outlander (starting on August 24, at 10:00 p.m. ET, on Showcase). The plot is a bit of a tough sell if you've never read the book series. I can remember my friend describing the first book, quite accurately, like so: "Well, there's this army nurse who reunites with her husband in Scotland after the war, but she falls through some stones and goes back in time and meets a dashing young Scottish warrior." It's a bit of "uh-huh, right..."

A series of eight massive novels and one TV series can't be wrong, however. I devoured the novels one-handed during the days I was home nursing my boys (now three and seven)—props to the author, Diana Gabaldon, for being both prolific and entertainingand am very attached to the sassy, smart, and independent heroine, Claire Randall (played by Catriona Balfe). The story of how a modern woman would copeand possibly get into a wee bit of troublein 1740s Scotland is surprisingly complex. Claire is a little ahead of her time for women's liberation in the 1940s, so the 1740s are quite another challenge. Given her independence and funny modern ideas about women doing as they please, Claire is set for a perfect clash with brash young Scot Jamie Fraser (Sam Heughan).

The books defy genre and are part romance, part adventure, and part science fiction (heavy on the fictionif you are looking for a satisfying explanation as to WHY Claire can travel time, it's a bit thin). How the books got started is a story that would make any aspiring novelist or working writer nearly sick with envyGabaldon simply wrote her first novel and got it right on the first try. Will the series be able to deliver the same balance and get it right? Showcase has a preview scene available here. Heughan is definitely not the Jamie I cast in my head, but if he can telegraph the complexities of his paper counterpart, he can be forgiven for not being a real ginger.

Whether you've been through Claire and Jamie's adventures already or are discovering them for the first time with the new TV series, they are a pair of adventurers worth spending your time with.

SPOILER ALERT: The series has already begun airing on the U.S. Cable Channel STARZ, so any of your friends (and Tweeps) south of the border will be ahead of you.

If you're the type who likes to read the book first, the Outlander Series made our Top 5 Romantic Books list.

If Claire and Jamie make you want to hop the pond to see where their adventures take place, our own Erica Ehm has made the trip.

Aug
13
2014

Back-To-School: 6 Great School-Themed Movies

To get you — and the kids — in the mood to return

Back-To-School: 6 Great School-Themed Movies

It’s that time—I find myself singing, “Back to school…back to school…” like Adam Sandler in Billy Madison.

While most parents can’t wait to get the kids out the door in September (until you remember you have to pack lunches…300 days of lunches!), the kids’ reactions can vary. I’ve got one school enthusiast and one who can be charitably described as indifferent.

Here are 6 school movies to suit your BTS mood:

Inspirational:

 

 Grease

What’s better than finding the right group to hang with who really gets you? Plus, “Beauty School Drop Out” carries the very important message of staying in school, as sung by Frankie Avalon. And don’t forget a totally bitchin’ makeover for Sandy! It’s what I thought high school would be like, until I actually got there.

Rated PG-13; some suggestive language that I didn’t really figure out until I was a grown-up.

 Dead Poets Society

Oh Captain, My Captain! This one has messages about being your own person, going against the grain, PLUS super-adorable students (Robert Sean Leonard, Josh Charles, and some guy named Ethan Hawke) driven to make a difference in their own lives by their English teacher, played to perfection by the one and only Robin Williams.

Rated PG.

 

Imaginative:

 

 School of Rock

Jack Black’s cash-starved musician accidentally cons his way into teaching prep school kids, creating an adorable, pint-sized rock band in the process. Some legit rock n’ roll education and some lessons about taking a chance round out the plot. Warning: heavy on the Jack Blackthis is a contentious issue in some (at least my) households.

Rated PG-13, but most of the rude stuff and drug references should be over little viewers’ heads.

 Harry Potter Movies

Harry and his friends go to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, which is 100 per cent cooler than anywhere any of us went to school. But as our young wizards get older, the secrets and dangers of Hogwarts get bigger. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone is the most friendly for those with younger viewers.

Rated PG. Later outings in Harry’s adventure are PG-13. There are EIGHT films in the Harry canonplan a marathon or screen one a week to get you through family movie night until Thanksgiving.

Detention:

 

 Ferris Bueller’s Day Off 

The most epic day of skipping school ever committed to film, which inspired a deep desire to visit Chicago (and when I finally did, doing nothing except pointing out Ferris Bueller locations was a real hit with my group). Matthew Broderick invests Ferris with such effortless charisma, you are drawn helplessly along for the ride, just like his best friend, the tightly-wound Cameron.

Rated PG-13; great with tweens and teens.

 Old School

This one’s more for when the lunches are made and the kids are tucked in. Grown men try to recapture the glory days of college by starting a fraternity, only to face the same situations they did at college the first time, but with much less hair and rebound capacity after a night with a keg. Best-known for Will Ferrell’s streaking scene, you won’t have to study hard to enjoy it.

Rated R; teens might enjoy it, but there is the disturbing theme of adults…having fun…without their children.

Didn't get past the part about school lunches? You might like this: "How to Pack a Healthy Lunch Your Kids Will Love."

 

You can learn even more ways to get organized and transition from summer to school on our Back-To-School 2014 page.

Aug
11
2014

In Memoriam: Robin Williams

YMC Community Shares Their Favourite Memories of the Actor-Comedian

In Memoriam: Robin Williams

Robin Williams

Our sincere condolences to the family of Robin Williams, and to those who knew the actual man. Williams died on August 11th, apparently of suicide. He battled depression and addiction, but he also gave us indelible characters that are stitched into the very fabric of growing up for many of us.

From Mork's rainbow suspenders (Nanu, Nanu) to Adrian Cronauer in Good Morning Vietnam, or the Genie in Disney's Aladdin, there are so many gentle-yet-wild characters in his canon that everyone has a favourite. His performance as Psychologist Sean Maguire made our recent "Top 10 movie therapists" list. Mork was one of the first things I can remember loving on TV as a kid, and the goofy montage while he's finding his Mrs. Doubtfire look taught me more Hollywood history than my first semester of film class. His death sent a ripple of shock through the YMC Community when the news broke, and we'd like to share some of our favourite memories and performances. Please join us by leaving yours in the comments.

Favourite Roles & Quotations From His Films

Julie Green:
The Fisher King: "There's three things in this world that you need: respect for all kinds of life, a nice bowel movement on a regular basis, and a navy blazer."

Dead Poets Society: "We don't read and write poetry because it's cute. We read and write poetry because we are members of the human race. And the human race is filled with passion."

Ashley MacInnis: "Mrs. Doubtfire and Jumanji were my go-tos as a kid. Patch Adams makes me cry every time."

Ali Martell:
Dead Poets Society: "No matter what anybody tells you, words and ideas can change the world."
Good Morning Vietnam: "Gooooooood morning, Vietnam! It's 0600 hours. What does the "o" stand for? 'O my God, it's early!"

Dani LeClair: I love this, from the man himself: "You're only given one little spark of madness. You mustn't lose it."

Erin Chawla: Dead Poets Society — "O Captain, my captain!"

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences sent out this touching tweet in reaction to the sad news:

Find a photo memorial for Robin Williams here.

If you or someone you love is living with depression, there's help. Visit the Canadian Mental Health Association site here.

photo from collider.com via Google