Visiting the Dinosaur Zoo in Hong Kong

IMG_5373The final event of our Chinese New Year trip to Hong Kong was a trip to the Udderbelly Festival‘s Dinosaur Zoo, and it was a great way to top off our trip, especially for our two and half year old dinosaur fan, Noah.

The Dinosaur Zoo folks are from an Australian company called Erth, and they put on a great show! The audience was filled with kids of all ages, and they really responded enthusiastically to the entire production.

The show runs from February 10 to 14th, with shows in English and Cantonese. Go here for more information, [edit: the link is old, and they’ve removed the info] and plan to take the kids! They’ll love it!

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McDonald’s Next • Hong Kong

mcdWant to know what McDonald’s of the future might look like? You just have to go no further than Hong Kong’s Admiralty Center and the McDonald’s Next Concept Restaurant. This is a one-in-the-world McD’s dining experience, and has both the traditional menu as well as healthier options that you build for yourself.

The fancy new McDonald’s was a hit for my kids. While my daughter went the traditional double cheeseburger route, my son ordered a hamburger that you built to order, and he said it tasted better than a typical McDonald’s burger. I had the build your own salad with grilled chicken and asparagus (!), and it was quite tasty, and I didn’t leave McDonald’s feeling like I needed to take a few Lipitor for my trouble.

The food was brought to our table by nice McDonald’s employees, and was pretty quick in arriving. And while you can tell that it was a crowded place, we very quickly found seats, and they even had cell phone chargers on every table – which in Hong Kong is a pretty big deal.

I didn’t try the McCafe options, but the baked goods and coffee looked like an upgrade from the typical McCafes that you find in McDonald’s all over China.

It was a pretty cool experience, eating in this McDonald’s from the future. If you’re in Hong Kong, give it a try!

The Movieguide Awards Results

movieIt took a bit of sleuthing, but the results of the 24th Annual Movieguide Faith & Values Awards Gala and Report to the Entertainment Industry are in!

So, without further ado, and without any further understanding or clarity about who makes the decision of who wins these awards, I give you:

The Winners of the 24th Annual Movieguide Faith & Values Awards Gala and Report to the Entertainment Industry (and the link to where I found out that they’d won):

The Most Inspiring Performance for Television:

Alyvia Alyn Lind, Gerald McRaney, and Jennifer Nettles, Dolly Parton’s Coat of Many Colors

The Most Inspiring Performance for Movies:

Karen Abercrombie, War Room

The Best Movie for Mature Audiences:

The 33

The Best Movie for Families:

Home

The Bradley Foundation Faith & Freedom Award:

Joy

And the two biggest prizes of the evening…

Where you get a nice plaque and $100,000 for winning…

The $100,000 Epiphany Prize to the Most Inspiring TV Program of 2015:

Dolly Parton’s Coat of Many Colors

The $100,000 Epiphany Prize to the Most Inspiring Movie of 2015:

War Room

Fun fact, this makes the third movie for the Kendricks to win the big prize at Movieguide, out of their five movies. I’d say they are officially the team to beat when it comes to the Movieguide Awards.

To see the festivities in all of their glory, you can watch on Feb. 22 and again two days later on the Reelz Channel.

By the way, does anyone know how one could get their hands on this report that Movieguide releases? Also, if anyone at Movieguide would be gracious enough to explain to me the process of how the winners are selected, I would love to write an article about it.

The 2015 Movieguide Awards Nominations

If you were too busy soaking in the Oscar Nomination awards to notice, you might have missed the Movieguide award nominations, which were announced on January 11 at the Universal Hotel in Los Angeles by Movieguide founder, Dr. Ted Baehr.

The 24th Annual Faith & Values Awards Gala and Report to the Entertainment Industry will be held on Friday, February 5 at the Universal Hotel in Los Angeles, and it is sure to be a star-studded affair – at least for those who love the “faith-and-family” genre of filmmaking.

(Feb. 6, 2014 - Source: Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images North America)

Duck Dynasty wins in 2014… (Source: Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images North America)

Movieguide is an “international family guide to movies and entertainment”, and the awards show exists to help celebrate that aspect of the entertainment industry. That means that these awards aren’t necessarily for the best films of the year (no The Revenant or Mad Max to be found here), but for those films that exhibit the best in “family friendly” qualities.

The big prizes of this awards show are the coveted Epiphany Prizes. Past winners of this prize (given for film and television) are an eclectic group of films, including God’s Not Dead, Les Miserables, The Chronicles of Narnia: Voyage of the Dawn Treader, and Fireproof. The Epiphany Prizes are $100,000 prizes that are awarded annually to the movie and television program that resulted in a “great increase in man’s love or understanding of God,” although I’m not really sure who makes that call – after all, it’s really not clear who votes for these awards.

The long-short of it is – this is one of thew few places where faith based films and television typically get any recognition, although the awards recognize secular films as well.

And because everyone is awards-show crazy right now, here are the nominees for the 24th Annual Movieguide Faith & Values Awards, and you may do with them what you will:

The $100,000 Epiphany Prize to the Most Inspiring Movie of 2015,

The 33

Brooklyn

Captive

Do You Believe

Manny

War Room

Woodlawn

The $100,000 Epiphany Prize to the Most Inspiring TV Program of 2015:

A.D.: The Bible Continues

Ancient Roads from Christ to Constantine

Blue Bloods: Hold Outs

Chicago Fire: Forgiving, Relentless, Unconditional

Dolly Parton’s Coat of Many Colors

Saints & Strangers

The Bradley Foundation Faith & Freedom Award:

Cinderella

The Good Dinosaur

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2

Joy

Max

McFarland, USA.

Woman in Gold

The Best Movie for Families:

Cinderella

The Good Dinosaur

Home

Inside Out

Max

Paddington

The Peanuts Movie

Shaun the Sheep Movie

The Spongebob Movie: Sponge Out of Water

War Room

The Best Movie for Mature Audiences:

The 33

Ant-Man

Avengers: Age of Ultron

Furious 7

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2

Joy

Jurassic World

The Martian

McFarland, USA.

Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation

The Most Inspiring Performance for Movies:

Antonio Banderas, The 33

Kate Mara, Captive

Ted McGinley, Do You Believe

Juliet Stevenson, The Letters

Karen Abercrombie, War Room

Sean Astin and Jon Voight, Woodlawn

The Most Inspiring Performance for Television:

Emmett J Scanlan, Joe Dixon, and Juan Pablo Di Pace, A.D.: The Bible Continues

Gordon Clapp, Chicago Fire: Forgiving, Relentless, Unconditional

Alyvia Alyn Lind, Gerald McRaney, and Jennifer Nettles, Dolly Parton’s Coat of Many Colors

Vincent Kartheiser, Saints & Strangers

I would say see you on February 5, but I’m not sure if this show is able to be viewed. If you know where one could watch the Movieguide awards, let me know and I’ll add it!

A Review of The Jim Gaffigan Show, Episode 1

Thimblerig’s Ark blog is pleased to have a guest reviewer joining us today, Jay Stroud of Chiang Mai, Thailand.  Jay and I had a brief discussion of the first episode of The Jim Gaffigan Show, and he agreed to share his thoughts on the blog.  Much appreciation to Jay, and to Jim Gaffigan, for giving us a glimpse of his upcoming show, which will air this summer on TV Land.

share_image_showLast night, I had the opportunity to watch the first episode of The Jim Gaffigan Show. I enjoy him as a comedian as he brings out the humor in everyday life stuff without feeling the need to go for shock laughs that spring more from discomfort than actual humor. That being said, the subject matter of his first episode was certainly surprising.

In the story, Gaffigan is leaving for a comedy club and his wife asks him to stop by their church and pick up a Bible the church had given her. He picks it up on the way but it turns out to be a very large family Bible that would draw attention anywhere. After the show at the comedy club, Jim has his picture taken with a fan and because he was holding the Bible, it showed prominent in the picture. It hit social media the next morning and the entire country was convinced that he was outspoken about his faith, though it was never a statement he intended. The story follows Gaffigan trying to navigate the media circus and how the media can affect public thought about celebrities. 

It was an interesting character study on ‘the media’ and fact checking in general but also true and false perceptions of Christianity. It’s amazing how often we forget to use logical thought to challenge what the news and media put out and even more, what is perceived as common perspective, eg. “I can’t be outed as a Christian, people think Christians are stupid.” 

This episode painted a picture of the cost of identifying with Christ. It means laying down your life which could mean your career or even your physical breath in the end. In such a polarized society, cultural forces are bound to tug you one direction or another and put you in tough positions where you have to choose. It is not always expected but calls for one to think on their feet as challenges come fast and furious. Gaffigan was not prepared to answer the questions or which way he wanted to be pulled. In this moment, I think he’s found a place that millions of people can identify with. 

78250-show-65737There are ways to work as a Christ follower more shrewdly than publicly having your pic taken with a giant Bible, and though inadvertent in this episode, some call that kind of attention to themselves purposefully, not expecting somehow that they will get more attention than they can handle and generally the unproductive kind. You wouldn’t stand on a street corner in Iraq declaring Christ without expecting it to blow up in your face (literally perhaps). Christians should be ready for questions that will come and cultural tugs to be clearly who we are.

In a way, it seems that Gaffigan did exactly what he feared. He is open about being Catholic and in this episode, he was able to face down fears about that. He was able to explore right and wrong ways sharing he is a Christian in fictional character. This is a safe way to start discussion and work through worries and issues that we all think about when living out our faith publicly. In this way, Gaffigan exorcised his own demons. At the end of the episode, he had his choice, but in real life, he also makes the choice to be who he is and let the chips fall where they fall. 

Favorite line: “I can’t take the Bible in the comedy club. I might get stand-up comedy on it.”

Jay Stroud lives in Chiang Mai, Thailand. He occasionally tweets @jay_stroud and very occasionally posts songs and stories about life at jaystroud.net

Click here to see more about The Jim Gaffigan Show.