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Archives for January 10, 2014

Review: Ambitious ‘Truth About Emanuel’ falls flat

The Truth About Emanuel

The Truth About Emanuel

Posted: Thursday, January 9, 2014 7:12 pm

Review: Ambitious ‘Truth About Emanuel’ falls flat

Patrick Ryan, Special to Tribune

East Valley Tribune

There’s a good film somewhere in “The Truth About Emanuel,” but unfortunately, you won’t find it in this muddled hour-and-a-half of tired movie tropes and big ideas gone haywire. Tossing around plot twists and clunky dialogue absent of any sensible logic or reason, what once appears to be a Stepford-esque horror story soon turns into a meditation on grief, completely devoid of any actual emotion.

Not to say “Emanuel” is a disaster by any means, largely thanks to Kaya Scodelario’s commendable leading turn as precocious, promiscuous teenager Emanuel, who wallows in guilt because her mother died in childbirth – a memory that only becomes more painful as her 18th birthday rolls around. Moody and sometimes venomous with her words, Emanuel has a strained relationship with her father (Alfred Molina) and chipper stepmother (Frances O’Connor), and finds difficulty connecting with anybody, save for an awkward love interest, Claude (Aneurin Barnard), that she meets on the train.

That all changes when she’s introduced to her next-door neighbor, Linda (Jessica Biel), and begins looking after her infant, Chloe. We quickly learn that this is no infant but a baby doll that Linda treats as an actual child, which puzzles Emanuel but doesn’t stop her from taking care of Chloe and protecting Linda’s secret.

Despite an oftentimes-laughable script from director Frances Gregorini (“Tanner Hall”) and Sarah Thorp, the film works to some degree thanks to Scodelario’s fully committed performance. She appears to be the only actor that brings any hint of nuance to her character and show that there’s more going on inside her eyes than what the clumsy dialogue may let on. She’s bound to become a breakout star in no time, but like the 2011 “Wuthering Heights” adaptation (in which she delivered a touching performance as the older Cathy), Scodelario has simply not been given a strong enough vehicle to showcase the full range of her talents.

Biel, regrettably, does not have the chops to deliver any more than a caricature with Linda, failing to elevate her mentally unstable, sometimes ridiculous character to one that is genuinely sympathetic. She is done no favors by the unfounded accusations and melodramatic declarations that attempt to propel the film forward and heighten the drama. Emanuel has a lesbian crush on Linda! Linda’s husband tried to get her committed to a mental hospital before she ran off! Emanuel is breaking up with Claude because, you know, he wants to do landscaping for Linda? The heavy-handed symbolism and sing-songy nature of the voiceovers add to the fact that this doesn’t feel like the work of a mature filmmaker, but the sort of grab bag of half-baked ideas one might find in a college screenwriting class.

To the film’s credit, the soundtrack is quite nice and there are some beautifully composed, oftentimes haunting shots. But at the end of the day, the film’s high ambitions ultimately amount to nothing. Sure, it’s not a terrible way to spend a Sunday afternoon when there’s nothing else to watch on video-on-demand (or on Redbox, when it eventually makes its way there). But while one tries to admire Gregorini for attempting something different, we’d definitely be seeing “The Truth About Emanuel” on a number of “worst of” lists around this time, had it been a higher-profile picture that received a wide release sometime last year. Instead, it will likely fall off the radar before it really ever hops on, which is probably for the best.

Grade: C-

‘The Truth About Emanuel’ opens in at Harkins Shea 14 in Scottsdale on Friday, Jan. 10. The film is also available on video-on-demand and iTunes. For more information, visit

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Thursday, January 9, 2014 7:12 pm.

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Quotation Mark,

Kaya Scodelario,

Jessica Biel,


Aneurin Barnard,

Alfred Molina,



British People,



Tanner Hall,

Sarah Thorp,


Frances Gregorini,



Wuthering Heights,

Film Forward

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Austin Hosts 16th Annual Home & Garden Show This Weekend

Austin Hosts 16th Annual Home  Garden Show This Weekend

Austin’s largest and most spectacular Home and Garden show is back, just in time for the New Year, with endless ideas and possibilities for every home and garden wish list. Now launching its 16th year, the show takes place today, January 10th through Sunday, January 12th at the Austin Convention Center, 500 East Cesar Chavez, Austin. Over 200 vendors, a Home Improvement Zone, celebrity appearance, seminars, Kid Zone, pet adoptions, top home improvement experts and family activities await guests at this year’s remarkable show.

Guests can stroll down aisle after aisle of displays; landscaping, the latest kitchen and bathroom trends, beautiful furniture, spas, patio retreats, creative home accents and even home theatre and security. The Home Improvement Zone, always a crowd favorite, is a one-stop area for guests to chat with the region’s top remodeling and improvement experts on topics ranging from roofing and plumbing to interior design trends, home security and the latest in green living.

The NARI, presented by the National Association of The Remodeling Industry has comfortable seating and offers guestsan up-close view of educational seminars. The seminars, offered throughout each day, are an excellent way to get information on a wide range of popular topics led by industry veterans.

Show Technology is especially honored to feature celebrity guest and veteran home improvement television host Jeff Devlin of HGTV’s ‘Spice up my Kitchen’ and the DIY Network’s ‘I Hate my Bath’ and ‘Good, Better, Best’.

A professional carpenter with a natural ability to entertain, Devlin has an incredible depth of knowledge and passion for designing, creating and building. With his three hit home improvement television shows on two different networks, he promises to offer seminars packed with invaluable information.

One of the most exciting and creative aspects of the Austin Home and Garden show is the long line-up of activities for the entire family. This year brings fun for the kids with snow globe photos, and a Costco interactive Kids’ Zone packed with safe and fun activities for kids of all ages. There will also be complimentary kid’s cooking classes by Chef Lori Hinze of Cook, Learn, Grow, and back by popular demand, the crowd-pleasing ‘Birds of Prey’ demonstration. For the shoppers in the family, there are unique gifts, including art, delicious gourmet treats and official GO TEXAN and Keep Austin Weirdproducts.

Finally, delight the whole family with a new furry family member at the Pet Zone, hosted by the Austin Humane Society.Cats and dogs will be on-hand for immediate adoption.

The show will be held Friday, January 10th from 2:00 – 7:00 pm, Saturday, January 11th from 10:00 am to 7:00 pm and Sunday, January 12th from 11:00 am to 5:00 pm. The show is $8.50 for adults (17+), $6.50 for seniors (65+) all weekend, and free for those 16 and under. In honor of our military personnel, there is complementary admission for all active duty service men and women (valid ID required). $1.00 off general adult admission coupon is available at and free tote bags for attendees available while supplies last. Paid admission allows entry all weekend.

The 16th Annual Austin Home Garden Show is sponsored by Time Warner Cable, KVUE-TV, Mix 94.7, Majic 95.5, and 96.3 RnB.

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Event promoter: Attendees can expect ‘biggest and latest’


Beginning tonight at 5 p.m., the 11th Annual Northwest Iowa Home and Builders Show returns to the Clay County Regional Events Center in Spencer for a three-day showcase concluding Sunday. A variety of exhibits and seminars will target the latest in home landscaping, building and remodeling products and services. There is no charge to attend.

“We always have a good array of exhibitors who offer a lot of new ideas to people whether they want to build a new house or remodel a house,” Bill Jackson, producer of the show and president of West Des Moines-headquartered Jackson Expo Group, said.

Jackson said he never knows exactly what the vendors will be showcasing but suggested, “Whatever it is, they always try to bring in the biggest and latest.”

Exhibitor displays will include such diverse products as remodeling materials, interior decorations, kitchens, appliances, flooring, garage doors, siding, landscaping ideas, windows, heating and air conditioning, water conditioning systems, home theaters, and more.

In addition to exhibits, the show will offer “How-To” seminars featuring a variety of expert presenters speaking on topics of interest to homeowners. Each seminar will be repeated several times during the three-day event.

“The seminars are always interesting for people to sit in on and come up with different ideas,” Jackson said. He pointed out a diversity of topics, ranging from food preparation to new home builder guidelines.

Also participating in the show, Papa Balloon who will be crafting balloon animals for children visiting the show with their parents.

“It’s a good show and has a good representation of exhibitors. They’re all professionals in their field and they know what they’re talking about,” Jackson said.

The show is sponsored by the Home Builders Association of Northwest Iowa and will be open to the public from 5-9 p.m. Friday; from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday; and noon to 5 p.m. Sunday.

6 p.m. — Quinoa: The Great Grain — Spencer Hy-Vee

7 p.m. — What’s New in Window Treatments: Motorized Blinds — Steffen Furniture

8 p.m. — Radon: The Facts and Fixes — Advantage Home Inspection

11 a.m. — What’s New in Window Treatments: Motorized Blinds — Steffen Furniture

Noon — Radon: The Facts and Fixes — Advantage Home Inspection

1 p.m. — Building a New Home: Getting Started — Nordaas American Homes

2 p.m. — Sunpower Solar — Green Energy Products

3 p.m. — Beer and Food Parking — Spencer Hy-Vee

1 p.m. — Building a New Home: Getting Started — Nordaas American Homes

2 p.m. — Sweet Treats — Spencer Hy-Vee

3 p.m. — Radon: The Facts and Fixes — Advantage Home Inspection

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Gardening and Living in Grand Style Adding winter interest to your landscape…

I was visiting a friend recently and remarking on what an incredible view he had of the mountains and red rocks and how especially this time of year it had that extra sparkle with the snow perched hither and yon.

Well, we don’t all have that type of spectacular view, and at times during the winter I know we look out upon our landscapes and dream of what they will look like once spring brings flowers bursting forth and then the unfurling of the rich green leaves of our plants.

Having been involved with horticulture for a long time, I know there is a never-ending search for ways to increase the visual interest in gardens and landscapes. One way to do this that, I believe, is often overlooked involves adding interest to the winter landscape. This can be done in a variety of ways, with plants of varying colors, those with berries and seed pods, bark with interesting textures and colors, and also with hardscapes and even furniture.

What first comes to mind involves plants with colorful foliage, which, for winter, means evergreens, but not necessarily those with green foliage. Juniperus chinensis or Chinese junipers are a standard in the landscaping industry, and many of its cultivars – plants that have been selected for certain characteristics – have blue and even yellow foliage that looks great year round. There are also many cultivars of the Rocky Mountain juniper (Juniperus scopulorum), which has bluish foliage. Other plants that work well in our landscapes are yuccas such as the Yucca filamentosa “Golden Sword,” with yellow leaves that have a green edge, and Yucca filamentosa “Color Guard,” which has leaves with a central stripe of bright yellow, and in cool weather can have margins with a pinkish cast.

Other possibilities for plants with winter interest are those with fruit or seed pods that can persist or last into the winter. There is a nice small tree Crataegus crusgalli var. inermis or thornless cockspur hawthorn, which has red fruit. Then there are shrubs such as the Japanese barberry, Berberis thunbergii with red berries, the sea-buckthorn, Hippophae rhamnoides with orange fruit, the smooth sumac, Rhus glabra cismontane, which has fuzzy maroon fruit, and the silver buffaloberry, Shepherdia argentea, with yellow to orange red berries. Also, if you don’t remove the flowers from a rose, such as the native pink rose Rosa woodsii, they will form nice pretty red rose hips.

There are also plants with bark that have interesting textures or colors. There are some Cornus species with red and even yellow bark, but many of those would take special care in our area. However, there are some we should consider, such as the amur maackia, Maackia amurensis, with its amber, bronze- to copper-colored bark. As it matures it will start to peel or curl. Another is the Japanese red pine, Pinus densiflora, with its orange red bark, which also looks scaly as it ages. A shrub that admittedly takes closer inspection to appreciate is the cliff fendlerbush, Fendlera rupicola, with its reddish young bark which turns gray and scaly or shredded with age.

However, adding color and interest doesn’t stop with plants but can be achieved with items you place or build in your yard, such as arbors, gazebos, and trellises. Or even interesting wood fences, stone walls, water features and strategically placed boulders.

Finally, you might also consider colorful furniture such as a colored metal bench or even some of those brightly colored Adirondack chairs sold in town.

These are just a few suggestions among all that is out there waiting to be considered. So as you are looking through catalogs or online for what you want to plant for spring and summer, consider what you can add so that next winter you have a visual feast in your outdoor winter landscape.

Thought for the day: “The greatest gift of the garden is the restoration of the five senses.” —Hanna Rion.

Have an idea you’d like Mike to consider writing about? Want more information about these topics? Call the Utah State University Extension Grand County office at 435-259-7558 or email Mike Johnson at

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Neil Sperry: Seven things all gardeners should do

If anyone saw me trying to repair my truck’s engine, they’d probably say, “Poor fellow — how much work he’s making for himself.” And they’d be absolutely correct.

Along a similar random and ill-marked path, I frequently see gardeners doing things that don’t seem logical and I want to say something, but it never feels right, so I usually stay quiet and move on. But I can still wish for them to find an easier way.

If I could wave a magic wand to help gardeners enjoy the world’s greatest hobby to the fullest, there are several things I would recommend.

Find plants for your home, not homes for your plants. That’s an old design axiom I picked up somewhere in childhood (I started early), and it still rings very true. Rather than buying plants that catch your eye and then trying to fit them into your landscape, have a good idea of the voids you need to fill, then find the best plants to fill them.

To think in terms of interior decorating, if you need a chair for the living room, you don’t necessarily buy the flashiest one in the store (brightly striped vinyl beanbag). You buy one that fits in with the rest of your decor. Beyond that, furniture stays the same size year after year, but your new plants will grow, so you also must know what their mature sizes will be. That way you’ll never have to ask the question of “how far back” you can trim any plant.

Buy plants that are adapted to your soils and your climate. That’s where the help of a Texas Master Certified Nursery Professional can guide you to the best choices. It doesn’t matter so much whether a plant is native to Texas or not. I want a plant that’s adapted to my landscape. My heart breaks when I see people buying plants that I know just aren’t going to make it in their North Texas gardens.

Prune with a purpose. This is another axiom I learned early in my career. Many plants really don’t need to be pruned in the first place. Avoid formal pruning whenever possible. Plants don’t have to be square. Or round. Or pom-pom-shaped. If you’ve made a good choice at the outset (in terms of mature plant sizes), all you would normally need would be a little shaping to maintain the plant’s normal forms.

Topping crape myrtles and shade trees is never justifiable. There is no good reason. If the plant is growing too tall or wide for its location, move it during the winter transplanting season and choose something smaller. Topping slows the blooming of crape myrtles, and it leaves ugly and permanent scars in their branching.

Don’t be afraid to “remodel” your gardens. You change things inside your house when they wear out or become stale. You can do the same thing outdoors. In fact, some of our greatest landscaping achievements come when we muster the courage to take out misshapen or overgrown plants and replace them with something fresh and exciting. Take the opportunity to create a new planting plan. Get a new and exciting look for your landscape. You’ll be glad you did.

Use common sense when watering. Texas is always in some stage of water curtailment. Our population has grown at the same time that rainfall has been down for many recent years. That means we must all use water-efficient plants and practices, but it does not mean that we have to give up on our lawns, landscapes and gardens. We just need to scale things back to logical levels.

Know the facts of soil science when you’re out buying fertilizers. Plants don’t differentiate as to whether nutrients came from animal waste or fertilizer when it comes to nutrients entering plants’ roots in water solution. It’s all the same to the plants, so follow your heart, whether your choice be organic or inorganic. But know the facts first.

Read product labels carefully when you’re buying pest-control supplies. Be sure that the label that’s affixed to your product gives all the legal information about amounts to use; timing and rates of application; precautions to protect people, plants and pets; and remedies for misuse. We have a lot of products sold in the Texas gardening market that won’t have that essential information readily at hand. It may be printed on a loose sheet of paper that’s displayed alongside the product, but don’t confuse that with a legal label. The state requires that the label it certifies be affixed to the bag or bottle. You’re looking for authenticity — for proof of claims made for the products. Without it, you may be about to waste a lot of money.

Neil Sperry publishes “Gardens” magazine and hosts “Texas Gardening” from 8 to 10 a.m. Sunday on WBAP AM/FM. Reach him during those hours at 800-288-9227.

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Norway Gardens to Be Part of Monticello-Lake Shafer Wedding Planners First …

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“This is a great way for a couple to get sources for all their wedding planning in one place — a one-stop shopping opportunity.” — Amy Herman, Norway Gardens

Monticello, IN (PRWEB) January 10, 2014

Norway Gardens has been instrumental in forming a group of nineteen wedding-related businesses in north-central Indiana. Called the Monticello-Lake Shafer Wedding Planners, this group focuses on the special service and attention to detail that small businesses can provide a couple planning a wedding. The Wedding Planners encourage brides-to-be and their families to seek their help in planning beautiful and hassle-free events. With this goal in mind the Wedding Planners have scheduled their first Monticello-Lake Shafer Wedding Fair to be held on Saturday, February 1, 2014, at the Tippecanoe Country Club, 3267 N W Shafer Drive, Monticello, Indiana, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. During this event, style shows will be presented at 11:30 a.m. and again at 2:30 p.m., featuring new trends in dresses, tuxes, floral bouquets, accessories, cakes, jewelry, etc. Door prizes will be awarded throughout the event. The $1 per person admission fee will be pooled to become a cash doorprize for one lucky attendee.

Included in the vendor offerings at this event are merchants specializing in wedding attire, floral design, cakes, rings and jewelry, hair styling and manicures, invitations and favors, catering, photography, videography, D.J. services, and receptions. To prepare the wedding party for the event there will be vendors specializing in body toning, facials and massages — even beautiful smiles. One vendor offers his popular resort for those planning a destination wedding on the lake. A vendor will be there to help with honeymoon planning and a realtor to help a couple with their first home. Monticello-Lake Shafer area with its beautiful lakes is a popular destination wedding venue for prospective brides and grooms.

Norway Gardens has been a leader in gardening and landscaping in north-central Indiana since 1970. In 2013 the company expanded their offerings by opening a full-service floral design department. Emphasizing unique and beautiful floral designs, Norway Gardens Floral Department works with clients to create one-of-a-kind bouquets and floral arrangements that reflect the clients’ individual taste and special interests. For more information, visit our website

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Midwinter Interlude Event Set for February 1

(Posted by Boston Globe Garden Writer Carol Stocker, who will be answering horticultural questions live on-line Thursday, Jan. 9, and Jan. 16 from 1-2 p.m.)….WELLESLEY HILLS, Massachusetts— The Evening Garden Club of West Roxbury, announces plans by its state organization, The Garden Club Federation of Massachusetts, Inc. (GCFM), to host Midwinter Interlude, an afternoon of flowers, food, music and fun. The event will take place on Saturday, February 1, 2014, at the Beechwood Hotel, Worcester, MA, and will feature floral creations by several distinguished designers.

Arrangements will reflect “The Wide World of Floral Design,” with plants and color schemes conveying a global flavor. Another type of “global flavor” will be appetizers by the hotel chef Laurant Olivier and live music by the Henry Platt Quartet.

“This midwinter getaway will transport attendees to an elegant party with an international feel—without making them venture far from home,” said Marisa McCoy, GCFM president. “They will be surrounded not only by beautiful flowers and fine food, but by friendly and engaging company.”

McCoy noted that the event fills a void left by Tower Hill Botanic Garden’s decision not to host their popular Flora in Winter floral design show in 2014.

Midwinter Interlude hours are 3:30 to 6:30 PM. Tickets are $50 each, a portion of which can be tax deducted. Proceeds from the event will benefit the horticultural mission of GCFM. For ticket information, contact Bonni Asbjornson at 978-692-8685 or

The Garden Club Federation of Massachusetts ( is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, dedicated to fostering an understanding and appreciation of horticulture, landscape and floral design, gardening, and environmental concerns. The Federation has approximately 12,000 members statewide.

The luxury Beechwood Hotel, rated four stars by AAA, is located at 363 Plantation Street, Worcester, just west of the University of Massachusetts Medical School and Lake Quinsigamond, off Route 9. It is easily accessible via Mass Pike and other major highways. For more information go to or telephone 508-754-5789.

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10 Quick Tips On Photographing Garden Birds

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Douglas fir not native to Maryland

The top of my Douglas fir is dead. What killed it? It’s a native tree, so shouldn’t it grow well? If I cut off the top will it grow back?

Douglas fir (a Pseudotsuga, not a real fir) is native to the Rocky Mountains and the West Coast, very different environments from Maryland with its high temperatures, humidity and drought. Even Maryland has vastly different climatic regions. When you seek a compatible plant and find “native” on the label, be sure it’s native to your region. It’s common for Douglas fir to grow well here for years and then succumb to drought and stress. It will not grow back satisfactorily if the top is removed.

I need a “green” fix on these dreary days. Is there a conservatory around here?

You’ll feel like you’re in the tropics at Baltimore’s own Rawlings Conservatory, recently renovated and expanded. Bask in the Mediterranean House, the Palm House, Orchid Room and more. There is even a Desert House full of a Dr. Seuss-worthy cacti. This historic conservatory and botanic garden is the second-oldest municipal glass conservatory in America and recently marked its 125th anniversary. Open 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Wednesday-Sunday, and until 7 p.m. June to September. Call 410-396-0008 about guided tours or scheduling an event or visit

University of Maryland Extension’s Home and Garden Information Center offers free gardening and pest information. Call 800-342-2507 or send a question to the website at

Plant of the week

Bird’s Nest Spruce

Picea abies ‘Nidiformis’

This dwarf conifer looks good throughout the year, but proves invaluable in the winter landscape when the short fine-textured needles remain a dark rich green. In spring, new growth appears a cheery yellow-green at branch tips. This flat-topped, spreading spruce has a slight depression in the center, reminding one of a bird’s nest. Ultimately about 4 feet high by 5 feet wide, bird’s nest spruce is useful in a foundation planting, rock garden, border or as a specimen. It likes full sun in moderately moist well-drained soil. This low-maintenance plant requires no pruning and is seldom damaged by deer.— Marian Hengemihle

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