3twins fans, The demo beta of our very first game Of Mages & Pages is live for your enjoyment on lectrajack.com As this is a beta, we would love to have feedback. Please post feedback here or email your thoughts to firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you, Of Mages & Pages game team
I first saw this movie probably in the late 80’s (Yes, I’m giving away my age), so it had been around a while even then, since it was made in 1984 and released in September of that year. I recalled loving it at the time, but I had forgotten exactly why, other than that I had enjoyed it immensely, so when I noticed it was playing on Encore the other night, I informed my hubby that I would like to see it. Granted, Chet was a bit reluctant, probably because, since I recalled loving it, he most likely thought it was some kind of “chick-flick.” Not that he said as much, but I could see it in his eyes.
Anyway, long story short, we watched Places in the Heart, and no more than 15 minutes into the movie, Chet said, “Honey, this is really good;” and he said it several times thereafter. He also commented upon the “extraordinary” performances of the actors, the “stunning” cinematography, and the “outstanding” sound track. Though it was admittedly difficult, I bit my tongue and refrained from saying, “See, told you so.”
All of that said, this is definitely a see-again movie, and if I live long enough, I will see it yet again. It’s that good. It’s a beautifully acted, poignant drama that will have you teary-eyed at times and smiling through those tears at other times. It is rated PG-13, however, for language (a few curse words) and violence (none of it graphic), so I wouldn’t recommend it for really young children, though those older than 12 should have no problem with it whatsoever.
Then again, most children that age today are probably too much into computer-generated special effects and pulse-pounding digitally synthesized music to enjoy a film like Places in the Heart. For one, other than the tornado scene, there really aren’t any special effects to speak of, and the sound track consists of old-time gospel songs like the ones I grew up singing at Campbellton Baptist Church, for example, “I Come to the Garden Alone,” and “Blessed Assurance.”
Brief Overview of the Storyline
Written and directed by Robert Benson and set in Waxahachie, Texas during the Depression, Places in the Heart tells the story of a young mother’s struggle to survive following the accidental shooting of her husband, the town sheriff, by a young black man, who is later killed by a vigilante mob.
Despite the disapproval of certain members of the community, some of whom belong to the Ku Klux Klan, Edna Spalding (Sally Field) hires a drifter, Moze, played by Danny Glover, to help her plant 30 acres of cotton in order to save the farm from foreclosure and keep her family together. She also takes in a blind boarder, Mr. Will (John Malkovich), who happens to be the brother-in-law of the banker who holds the note on her farm.
Sometimes it’s rather like watching “The Perils of Pauline” because poor Edna has to endure so much, as do Moze, Mr. Will, the children (Frank and Possum), and other characters; for example, Edna’s sister Margaret, whose philandering husband is carrying on with the town’s elementary-school teacher Viola, who just happens to be Margaret’s closest friend. There’s also a tornado (it’s a harrowing scene) and the Ku Klux Klan to contend with, along with the challenge of picking cotton, which is grueling work and can do really nasty things to one’s hands. My hands started to hurt, in fact, just watching them picking that cotton.
I don’t want to give away anything, but be prepared for the movie’s final scene. At first you think it’s really happening—at least I did—but you then realize it’s only a dream, or maybe “fantasy” is a better word, depicting a world where all the characters—friends and enemies, black and white, living and dead—are united and taking communion at the little Methodist church in Waxahachie, Texas. Fantasy or not, though, it is a powerful scene that you will not soon forget.
Cast of Characters
Though there are too many actors to list them all, the main characters include:
• Sally Field as Edna Spalding
• Danny Glover as Moze
• John Malkovich as Mr. Will
• Ed Harris as Wayne Lomax
• Lindsay Crouse as Margaret Lomax
• Ray Baker as Sheriff Royce Spalding
• Amy Madigan as Viola Kelsey
• Yankton Hatten as Frank Spalding
• Gennie James as Possum Spalding
• Lane Smith as Albert Denby
• Terry O’Quinn as Buddy Kelsey
Sally Field deservedly won the Best Actress Oscar for her performance, and Robert Benson won the Oscar for Best Screenplay Written Directly for the Screen. Moreover, though it didn’t win, the movie was nominated for Best Picture, while John Malkovich and Lindsay Crouse were nominated for Best Actor and Best Actress, respectively, and Robert Benson for Best Director. Of course, had I any say in the nominations, Danny Glover would have been nominated for Best Actor, but then, if the decision had been left up to me, Places in the Heart would have won Best Picture of 1985. It’s really that good, so if you haven’t seen it, please do.
Source of Photos: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment (1984)
Several month’s back our late COO, Andy, blogged about the decision to cut a character from the upcoming Wii U game Of Mages & Pages: Remnants of Iniquity.
In the aftermath of Andy’s passing, I came up with an idea of a way to bring her back in a different capacity. Princess Thafi will actually first appear in the upcoming Midieville shorts that we are creating to bridge the story gap from the old Midieville shorts and the new Of Mages & Pages games.
I’m not going to reveal how she comes about, other than to say that she will NOT be the damsel in distress she originally was thought up as. However, I am sharing with you brand new concept art from S. LaDon Ware of what Princess Thafi may look like in the cartoons/games.
Comic books have been a staple of entertainment for children in America, as well as other countries, for many years now. In fact, according to Thomas Andrae, author of Carl Bark’s and the Disney Comic Book (2006), “Before television, rock music, and video games, comic books were the mainstay of entertainment in America” (p. 3). Indeed, comic books were “a universal experience for children who grew up from the Great Depression through the baby boom years” (Andrae, 2006, p. 3).
That statement, however, is not meant to imply that comic books have waned in popularity. If anything, they have become even more popular, and for reasons surpassing mere entertainment value.
As Andrea relates, “Comic books, like other pop cultural ephemera, have become highly priced collector’s items” (2006, p. 3). For example, according to CNBC (2014), a copy of the first issue of Action Comics featuring Superman sold for $3.2 million on EBay in August of 2014. On the other hand, comic books today are prized for more than their sentimental and monetary value; they are also celebrated as important art forms (Andrea, 2006).
Then again, regardless of their continued popularity, sentimental value, possible worth, or contribution to the arts, there was a time when comic books did not exist; and the question that arises is, exactly when and where did this method of creative expression originate?
The Origin of Comic Books
According to Wikipedia (2015), comic books had their origins in the 1700’s in Japan and the 1800’s in Europe, and they were introduced into the United States in the 1930s. Moreover, “The first modern comic book, titled Famous Funnies, was “released in the United States in 1933,” though it was merely “a reprinting of earlier newspaper comic strips” (para. 3).
Alternatively, according to The Titi Tudorancea Bulletin (2013), Rudolphe Topffer, a Swiss artist, published the first book to combine cartoons and text in 1837; and after being translated and published in several European countries, the book came to the United States in 1842. The title of the American version was The Adventures of Obadiah Oldbuck, and the book contained 6 to 12 panels per page in a 40-page side-stitched booklet, measuring 8 ½ by 11 inches.
It’s interesting to note, though, that the thematic elements of comic books, according to Random History (2015), can arguably be traced back to tales of the mythological gods and superheroes of ancient Greece, as well as figures in the Holy Bible. For example, the modern comic-book hero Flash explicitly draws on the iconography of the Greek god Hermes with his winged helmet and boots; and Samson’s weakness in the Old Testament, a haircut, echoes the vulnerabilities that afflict modern heroes such as Superman, who is weakened by kryptonite.
On the other hand, it is possible that the origin of comic books dates back even further. In fact, according to Random History (2015, para. 4), “The format of the modern day comic book perhaps can be traced to ancient narrative sequences of cave paintings, but more likely to the medieval broadsheet, which was a narrative strip carved into woodcuttings (Hayman and Pratt 2005). As Random History explains, “Broadsheet authors would often create cartoonish narratives of public executions and caricatures of public figures. As the printing press allowed mass circulation of the broadsheets, they were often gathered into collections, or what could be considered a prototype of the modern magazine or newspaper and, by extension, the comic book” (2015, para. 5).
So, all of that said, perhaps one can conclude that comic books originated, at least in a fashion, with humankind’s earliest artistic renderings. Regardless of where and when they originated, however, comic books have endured and will surely continue to endure for generations yet to come.
Andrae, T. (2006) Carl Barks and the Disney Comic Book: Unmasking the Myth of Modernity. Jackson, Mississippi: University Press of Mississippi
CNBC (2014) The Most Valuable Comic Books. Retrieved from http://www.cnbc.com/id/101944524
Random History (2015) Archetypes, Commercialism, and Hollywood: A History of the Comic Book. Retrieved from http://www.randomhistory.com/1-50/033comic.html
The Titi Tudorancea Bulletin. (2015) Comic Book. Retrieved from
Wikipedia (2015) Origin of the Comic Book. Retrieved from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Comic_book
Action Comics (2015) Google Images: www.technobuffalo.com
Famous Funnies (2015) Google Images: www.thecomicbooks.com
Flash Comic Book (2015) Google Images: wikipedia.org
Prehistoric Cave Painting (2015) Google Images: wurstwisdom.com
This was our President and COO. The company is at a loss for words in this trying time. We will carry on in his memory, but there won’t be any new 3twins posts for a while to give us time to grieve and figure out how we move forward.
We all feel the overwhelming love, support, thoughts, and prayers. It will be extremely difficult to continue with our current projects since the worl d of Midieville, where they take place, was the one 3twins property that was 100% Andy’s brainchild.
Thank you all for your support and understanding in this very personal and tragic moment in our personal lives and in the company.
I myself still cannot imagine the future without him, and any future success and not having my twin brother alongside us to share in it. However, he and I talked about the possibility “if” this type of thing were to happen and I know he wants us to carry on. So, after we have had time to mourn and regroup, we will carry on. For Andy.
If you enjoy movies with scripts that are beautifully written from beginning to end, that are cinematically breathtaking, and that contain musical scores that cause you to sing along with the characters and then hum those tunes long after the movie has ended, you will absolutely love the movie Frozen.
Directed by Jennifer Lee and Chris Buck and classified as a musical/fantasy/comedy, Frozen is a 3-D animated film released in late 2013 by the grandfather of family entertainment, Walt Disney Studios; and many film critics consider it the studio’s best animated undertaking since Disney’s golden era, which ran from 1988 through 1999 and included such blockbusters as Who Framed Roger Rabbit?, The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, and The Lion King (Disney, 2008).
Inspired by Hans Christian Anderson’s fairytale “The Snow Queen,” Frozen is an epic, sprawling adventure about an intrepid princess (Anna) who undertakes a quest to locate her estranged sister (Elsa), the Snow Queen, who possesses cryokinetic powers and is, however unintentionally, responsible for the kingdom’s being locked in the relentless grasp of eternal winter. Accompanying Anna on her journey into this land of ice and snow are a tough, resilient, and handsome iceman (Kristoff): the iceman’s pet reindeer (Swen); and a naïve, quite comical snowman (Olaf). Filled with adventures and misadventures, their journey is a visual and musical delight for all ages.
A blend of both computer-generated imagery and traditional hand-drawn animation, for which Disney is famous, Frozen is, to date, the highest grossing animated film of all time, and its monetary success has far exceeded that generated through box-office receipts. For one, according to Fritz (2014), “On the first day of its 2014 release on Blu-ray and DVD, the film sold 3.2 million copies, to become one of the biggest home video sellers in the last decade, as well as Amazon’s best-selling children’s disc of all time” (para. 2). Moreover, the film has given birth to a multi-million-dollar franchise of toys, games, books, clothing, and other related paraphernalia, which have been so in demand that stores report a difficult time keeping the items in stock (Fritz, 2014)
As for the cast, since this is an animated film, the “actors” provide only their voices, and given the scope of the story, the list of voice actors is quite extensive, but providing the voices of the main characters are the following:
• Kristen Bell as Anna, the 18-year-old Princess of Arendelle
• Idina Menzel as Elsa, the 21-year-old Snow Queen of Arendelle
• Jonathan Groff as Kristoff, the iceman
• Josh Gad as Olaf, the snowman
• Santino Fontana as Hans, a prince from the Southern Isles
In summary, chances are, if you have children, you have already seen Frozen more than once or even multiple times. However, if like many adults, you avoid animated films altogether because you think they are strictly for children, you need to give this particular film a chance. I seriously doubt you will regret it. In fact, you will probably thank me for recommending it. If not, well, then I will personally come to your house and extend my heartfelt apologies. How’s that?
Disney: Notes on the End of the Disney Renaissance. (2008) Retrieved January 6, 2015 from decentfilms.com.
Fritz, B. (2014) Disney’s Film Business Gets Big Boost from Frozen: Operating Income at Film Unit More than Quadruples; Musical in the Works.Wall Street Journal. Retrieved January 6, 2015.
Frozen Image (2013) Disney Studios. Google Images (2015)
Lang, B. (2014). Frozen Sells Massive 3.2 Million Discs in One Day. The Wrap. Retrieved January 6, 2015.
Happy New Year 3twins fans!
I’m writing today to officially announce that in addition to the puzzle game, Of Mages & Pages: Teento’s Revenge. We are also working on an RPG sister-game to Teento’s Revenge called, Of Mages & Pages: Remnants of Iniquity.
The RPG will follow the same basic storyline as the Puzzle game, but dive much deeper into the characters and give a wider look at the world of Midieville.
We hope to release OM&P: Remnants of Iniquity in 4th Quarter, 2015.
I am going to tell you one of the risks in having constantly on, always available news/entertainment media outlets . . . spoilers.
Recently, A&E aired the mid-season finale to their hugely popular television series, The Walking Dead. Shortly after the east coast airing, they posted on Facebook, “RIP Beth”. No warning, no spoiler alerts; just a simple, ‘hey, in case you hadn’t heard, the character to whom you have just started bonding with, and really started to care about died tonight.’
Instant carnage. The west coast hadn’t aired the show, so fans out west got a punch to the gut without the benefit of watching the episode first. Twitter lit up with angry viewers expressing their distaste for the tweet. A&E quickly responded and apologized with a humorous post saying, “#RIPSpoilers,” but the incident proves the power of an uncensored, un-alerted spoiler.
To show that I have learned from A&E’s mistake, I will now give you my own spoiler alert, so consider yourself alerted: In case you haven’t as of yet played our demo for Of Mages and Pages: Teento’s Revenge, you will have fun.
Today I bring you another new character for our upcoming game for Wii U, Of Mages & Pages, Bruce the Teal Wizard. Bruce is a Gnome and has dominion over “flora” which means plants of all kinds. Bruce watches over the Greckles, who are large rock people.
Bruce is the smallest of the wizards and will be a playable character in our upcoming RPG for Nintendo Wii U, Of Mages & Pages: Remnants of Iniquity and could quite possibly be a future character for our soon to be released puzzle game for Android and Nintendo Wii U, Of Mages & Pages: Teento’s Revenge.
Don’t forget to check out the demo for the puzzle game at lectrajack.com!
By Carol Rzadkiewicz
Reading Christmas stories is the ideal way to spend an evening or two during this special time of year. Granted, there are quite a few wonderful Christmas movies available, and I admit to watching my fair share; however, I also enjoy curling up under an afghan on the sofa in front of the fireplace, with a cup of hot chocolate close by, and reading a good Christmas story. There’s just something about reading that surpasses watching a movie. Perhaps it’s the way literature brings one’s imagination into play, which simply isn’t the case with movies because, with movies, nothing is left to one’s imagination.
Below are some of my favorite Christmas stories, although, admittedly, there are others I also enjoy. However, I read these particular stories to my children when they were growing up, and I continue to read them today, these many years later, because they never cease to fill me with the true spirit of the holiday season.
The Night Before Christmas, by Clement Clarke Moore
Of note, Moore was actually a professor of classics at the General Theological Seminary in New York and wrote a renowned scholarly work on the lexicon of the Hebrew language” (New York Institute, 2010). However, he is best known for the immortal The Night Before Christmas, which was originally a poem he wrote for his children in 1822 and titled “A Visit from Saint Nicholas.” First published in December of 1823, fittingly only two days before Christmas, the story was an instant hit and quickly became a Christmas staple around the world. (New York Institute, 2010).
Perhaps because I have read this charming story so many times through the years, I can quote it almost entirely by heart, as probably many of you can. Yet, if you haven’t managed to memorize it, or simply need a refresher, here is how this classic begins:
Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house/Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse;/The stockings were hung by the chimney with care,/In hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there;/The children were nestled all snug in their beds,/While visions of sugar-plums danced in their heads;/And mamma in her kerchief, and I in my cap,/Had just settled our brains for a long winter’s nap— (Moore, 1823)
A Christmas Carol, by Charles Dickens
Charles Dickens wrote his classic tale of Christmas in 1843, and, interestingly, according to the Unitarian Universal Historical Society (2009), “Around this time Christmas Day was again beginning to be celebrated and the holiday transformed. The story and its characters—Ebenezer Scrooge, Bob Crachit and Tiny Tim—defined the holiday’s meaning for the English-speaking world as the regenerative spirit of generosity, or what Dickens called his ‘Carol philosophy.’”
This wonderful story relates how three ghosts visit the miserly Ebenezer Scrooge on Christmas Even and, with their help, he undertakes a journey toward repentance, forgiveness, and, ultimately, love. It ends on this inspiring note:
He had no further intercourse with Spirits, but lived upon the Total Abstinence Principle ever afterward; and it was always said of him, that he knew how to keep Christmas well, if any man alive possessed the knowledge. May that be truly said of us, and all of us! And so, as Tiny Tim observed, God bless us, Every One! (Dickens, 1984)
A Christmas Memory, by Truman Capote
According to PBS American Masters (2006), Truman Capote, born in New Orleans in 1924, is considered one of America’s most controversial and colorful authors, and “though he wrote only a handful of books, his prose styling was impeccable, and his insight into the psychology of human desire was extraordinary.”
A Christmas Memory, which tells the story of “Buddy” and his elderly cousin—as well as beloved friend—Miss Sook Faulk, is a frankly autobiographical story of the years after Capote’s mother abandoned him, leaving him in the care of his elderly aunts and cousins in Monroeville, Alabama, where he lived a solitary and lonely existence and turned to writing for solace. (PBS, 2006)
This beautifully written novelette opens with a plea to the reader to use his or her imagination:
Imagine a morning in late November. A coming of winter morning more than twenty years ago. Consider the kitchen of a spreading old house in a country town. A great black stove is its main feature; but there is also a big round table and a fireplace with two rocking chairs placed in front of it. Just today the fireplace commenced its seasonal roar. (Capote, 1956)
In summary, of course there are other Christmas stories, many of them moving and extremely well written, but these three have all become classics, and for good reason. So, why not fix a cup of hot chocolate, curl up under an afghan in front of a cozy fire, and allow Clement Moore, Charles Dickens, and Truman Capote to share the real meaning of Christmas with you and your family this holiday season.
Capote, T. (1956) A Christmas Memory; New York: Random House
Dickens, C. (1984) A Christmas Carol (1984) New York: Signet Classics, a Division of Penguin Books
Moore, C. (1823) The Night Before Christmas. (1995) Philadelphia, PA.: Running Press Book Publishers
New York Institute for Special Education (2010) “Clement Clarke Moore,” retrieved from nyise.org
PBS American Masters (2006) “Truman Capote,” retrieved from pbs.org
Unitarian Universal Historical Society (2009) “Charles Dickens,” retrieved from uua.org
By Carol Rzadkiewicz
You may be searching for holiday movies that the entire family can enjoy. If so, then I would like to share some of my personal favorites for your consideration.
Of course, when it comes to quality Christmas movies for family viewing, there are actually quite a lot, far more in fact than I could possibly address in this blog posting. Then again, there are some that are consistently rated more highly than others for their entertainment value, and while a few are classics, others are of more recent vintage; however, whether old or new these movies all share certain characteristics:
- They do not contain violence, profanity, or nudity.
- They are immensely entertaining.
- They contain characters about whom you can care.
- The storyline actually has “meaning.”
- They are guaranteed to fill you with the true spirit of the Christmas season.
Classic Christmas Movies for Family Viewing
Granted, some children might consider older movies passé or even “boring,” but the stories told in the following movies are timeless and remain as heartwarming today as when the films were first released. So, with this in mind, after viewing these movies, children might develop an appreciation for the oldies but goodies.
Miracle on 34th Street (1947): Considered “one of Hollywood’s most delightful fantasies” (Martin & Porter), this movie stars Natalie Wood as a child who has stopped believing in Santa Claus but has her faith restored when she meets a department store Santa, played by Edmund Gwenn, who claims to be the real thing; and whether he is or he isn’t is left for the viewer to decide in this heartwarming classic.
It’s a Wonderful Life (1948): Starring legendary Hollywood actors as James Steward, Donna Reed, Lionel Barrymore, Thomas Mitchell, Ward Bond, and Henry Travers, this film relates the story of a good man who begins to question whether life has passed him by and to wonder what it would have been like for others had he never been born. Would they be better off for never having known him? Of course, he learns the answer, which is the premise for this “heartbreaking, humorous, and ultimately heartwarming” tale (Martin & Porter).
A Christmas Carol (1951): This version of Charles Dickens’ classic tale is considered by many film critics to be the best adaptation of the story. It stars Alistair Simms as Ebenezer Scrooge, the meanest miser in all of London, and is guaranteed to “bring a tear to your eye and joy to your heart” (Martin & Porter).
More Recent Christmas Movies for Family Viewing
In recent years Hollywood has produced several delightful holiday movies that are appropriate for all ages, including very young children. A few are especially noteworthy, including the following:
Charlie Brown Christmas (1965): Although by some standards an “oldie,” this animated tale remains “young at heart,” perhaps because it stars the entire cast of Charles Schulz’s Peanuts and is considered by some film critics to be “required viewing for anybody concerned with losing the Christmas spirit” (Martin & Porter).
A Christmas Story (1983): Set in the 1940’s, this movie stars Bill Billingsley as a boy who dreams of receiving the ultimate Christmas gift—a Red Ryder air rifle. His parents, however, played by Melinda Dillon and Darren McGavin, don’t think he’s yet old enough to handle a rifle. At times both heartwarming and hilarious, this film is a viewing delight for both young and old.
The Santa Clause (1994): The star of this film is Tim Allen, a father who finds himself obligated to become Santa Claus after frightening the Jolly Elf and causing him to plunge from the roof, thanks to a little thing called “The Santa Clause.” So Allen dons Santa’s suit, and from this moment on, the story becomes magical entertainment.
Elf (2003): Starring Will Ferrell, this enjoyable holiday film tells the story of a man who was raised by Santa’s elves at the North Pole but then learns of his human origins, which explains why he towers over his elfin kin, and wishes to return to the real world in order to locate his biological father.
The Polar Express (2004): This animated film is based on the children’s book by Chris Van Allsburg and was nominated for an Academy Award, for obvious reasons. The story of a young boy who doubts the existence of Santa Claus but then boards a magical train headed for the North Pole, this extraordinary film stars Eddie Deezen and Tom Hanks (at least their voices) and is a must-see Christmas film for all ages.
In summary, these delightful, entertaining, and wholesome Christmas movies will provide hours of fun for the entire family. Moreover, they are guaranteed to fill everyone, children and adults alike, with the true spirit of the Yule Tide season.
Martin, M. & Porter, M. (1994) Video Movie Guide, New York: Ballantine Books