Peanuts and Popcorn

Peanuts and Popcorn

TobyMac Mixes it Up with Latest Project

posted by jtotey
Feature_TobyMac2014

TobyMac

Apparently, the third time is a charm for Christian remixed music. Five-time GRAMMY® award winner TobyMac is the latest Christian artist to produce a remix album followed by Amy Grant’s “In Motion: The Remixes” (a great album) and Mandisa’s “Get Up: The Remixes” (just so-so). “Eye’m All Mixed Up (Remixes)” is TobyMac’s follow up album after “Eye on It” which debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200. It is the third Christian album to accomplish this feat at the time of its release.

Unlike Grant’s and Mandisa’s albums, this new one features reworking of songs only on “Eye on It” instead of a mix of songs from previous works. Reworked tracks are created by remixers Capital Kings, Telemitry, Soul Glow Activatur of Family Force 5 and others.

In a nutshell, if you like “Eye on It,” you’ll probably like this work as well. The songs sound different enough so you won’t feel like you’re listening to the same old music. Soul Glow Activatur’s version of “Eye on It” is by far the best track and is a good way to start out. It’s just as catchy as the original and just as fun.

There aren’t really any “clunkers” on this album, but be warned, not every song has been turned into a dance number. Songs like “Forgiveness” and “Speak Life” haven’t been sped up, which might be disappointing to a few listeners. Something else to take note of is the fact that the album features two versions of “Me Without You” (Capital Kings and Telemitry) and a second version of “Eye on It” by Kaveman.

Toby Mixes“Eye’m All Mixed Up (Remixes)” Tracklist includes:

  1. Eye on It (Phenomenon Remix by Soul Glow Activatur)
  2. Forgiveness (Feat. Lecrae) (Neon Feather Remix)
  3. Speak Life (Telemitry Remix)
  4. Me Without You (Capital Kings Remix)
  5. Steal My Show (Jack Shocklee Remix)
  6. Unstoppable (Feat. Blanca) (Phenomenon Remix by Soul Glow Activatur)
  7. Lose Myself (Capital Kings Remix)
  8. Eye on It (Kaveman Remix)
  9. Thankful for You (Thunderbird Remix)
  10. Mac Daddy (Tru’s Reality) (Telemitry Remix)
  11. Me Without You (Telemitry Remix)

NBC Gets a Jumpstart Promoting Easter with A.D.

posted by jtotey
Photography by Joe Alblas/LightWorkers Media/NBC

Photography by Joe Alblas/LightWorkers Media/NBC

In 1977, NBC aired the Jesus of Nazareth miniseries during the week of Easter for the first time. The network aired the special series five more times after that. Despite the fact that Jesus featured piercing blue eyes and that the production was fairly dull, it was received well. Subsequent attempts at airing biblical material have not fared so well for the network including 1999’s Noah’s Ark which like the recent big screen adaptation, veered away from the straight biblical context and turned viewers off.

However, the network has begun promoting its next venture in the biblical realm with A.D., a 12-week limited series produced by Roma Downey and Mark Burnett. A.D. will begin on Easter Sunday, April 5, 2015 and is said to be a sequel to the Bible mini-series that aired on the History Channel in 2013 and the Son of God movie that was shown in theaters this last Easter.

Photography by Joe Alblas/LightWorkers Media/NBC

Photography by Joe Alblas/LightWorkers Media/NBC

“Christianity is among the most diverse movements in history, so when Mark and I looked to bring this epic story of A.D. to life on NBC, it was important to us to find a cast as diverse and beautiful as the church is around the world.” said Executive Producer Downey in a recent press statement. “We look forward to sharing these amazing performances with our audience, and in them we hope that people see themselves.”

Downey’s and Burnett’s previous efforts have been warmly received partly because they were not hyper-serious productions. The language was easy to understand and even featured some humor, which helped make Jesus more relatable. Some criticized that the projects featured a “hot Jesus” for the actor’s good looks, but if that was the worst they could find with the productions, then so be it.

Juan Pablo di Pace (Mamma Mia, NBC’s Camp), has been cast as Jesus and will be joined by an accomplished cast from more than 10 different nations. Not surprisingly, A.D. picks up where The Bible, left off and follows the first ten chapters of the Book of Acts which explores what happened after Christ’s death. “A.D. will take its audience from the intense sorrow of Christ’s ultimate sacrifice to the awe-inspiring wonder of the Resurrection and deep into his disciples’ struggle to survive against opposition from every side as they continued to share his message of love with everyone, everywhere,” says the press release.

To coincide with the show’s airing, churches and small groups are encouraged to share Bible reading plans provided by the makers as well.

Science Nerds will Love ‘Interstellar’

posted by jtotey
Cooper (Matthew McConaughey) investigates a possible new home in 'Interstellar." (Paramount Pictures)

Cooper (Matthew McConaughey) investigates a possible new home in ‘Interstellar.” (Paramount Pictures)

Christopher Nolan’s latest is one of those movies that makes me feel like I’m missing something. It’s Christopher Nolan! You know, the guy who wrote and directed the Dark Knight Trilogy and the mind-bending Inception! You have to love it! The trouble is; I didn’t. That might have something to do with the fact that I am not a science nerd, but I think that there is more to it.

Interstellar is based on the scientific theories and script treatment of theoretical physicist, Kip Thorne. Press materials suggest that the movie “will depict a heroic voyage to the farthest borders of our scientific understanding.” That is a very true statement. This is a very deep movie, but not necessarily an enjoyable one. At least not all the way through.

The movie is set in the future where space travel in debunked in high school textbooks and crops are dying. Cooper (Matthew McConaughey) is a former astronaut-turned-farmer living with his father (John Lithgow) and two kids. Tom, his oldest, is set to continue the family farming tradition while the hard-headed Murphy has her sights on bigger things.

Cooper becomes convinced that man was born on earth but not designed to die on earth. In an elaborate set up, Cooper finds himself involved in an underground space program that has grandiose ideas about moving the humans on earth to a new home in the stars. It is headed by Professor Brand (Michael Caine) and his daughter Amelia (Anne Hathaway). They want to send him into space to see if earth’s humans can sustain living in a variety of planets. However, the catch is that space travel may prevent Cooper from returning home until many years later causing him to lose many years with his kids. Still, he doesn’t hesitate to volunteer, much to the anger of Murphy.

As expected, halfway through the film Murphy grows up to become Jessica Chastain. She is still angry that her dad left and yet is hopeful that she will one day see her dad again. Meanwhile, while in space, Cooper and company have deep scientific conversations. These are very “talky” scenes with some of McConaughey’s dialogue sounding like it came from his recent car commercials.

Filmed with IMAX, the photography is pretty impressive, but the movie has its flaws. Many of the characters have conversations where you only understand about half of what they are saying. Then there are the odd action and/or dramatic scenes. Tension builds during these scenes. You know this because the music builds and gets louder, but you don’t understand why.

As the movie goes on, it becomes incomprehensible with theories about gravity and love. Some audiences are completely at home with this time of storytelling, for others, like me, it just feels weird. I know that I am “supposed” to love it, but I don’t. You know that there is a deeper meaning, but you don’t know what it is. The storyline is very uneven and you leave the theatre feeling unsatisfied but glad that it’s over. I’m not sure that was the effect that Nolan was going for.

Wallenda’s Walk: A Walk of Faith or Testing God

posted by jtotey
Nik Wallenda will attempt to tightrope walk over Chicago blindfolded at it will all be recorded live on the Discovery Channel. (Photo: Discovery Channel)

Nik Wallenda will attempt to tightrope walk over Chicago blindfolded at it will all be recorded live on the Discovery Channel. (Photo: Discovery Channel)

Born a seventh –generation member of circus act, The Flying Walledas, Nik Wallenda made headline two years ago when he became the first person to walk a tightrope over Niagara Falls. The event was broadcast live on the Discovery channel. Today, he will attempt to tightrope walk over Chicago. Blindfolded.

Beginning at 7:00 p.m. Eastern Time (4:00 p.m. Pacific), “Skyscraper Live with Nik Wallenda” will air in more than 220 countries on the Discovery Channel. The event will be hosted by Willie Geist, Natalie Morales (both from NBC’s “TODAY” show) and Jim Cantore from The Weather Channel.

“I’m always pushing myself both physically and emotionally. I hope to inspire people around the world and show that the impossible is not so impossible if you set your mind to it,” said the 35-year-old Wallenda in a recent press release.  “This has been a dream of mine and something that I’ve been practicing for awhile.” One would hope so.

For the first part of the tightrope crossing, Wallenda will walk uphill rising to a 15-degree angle – from the Marina City’s west tower to the Leo Burnett Building at more than 50 stories high above the Chicago River.  Not only will this be the highest skyscraper walk in the history of the Flying Wallenda family, it will be the first time that he has ever attempted it at such a steep angle. As if that were not enough, he will then continue to walk blindfolded while dozens of cameras and microphones capturing every step and every phrase he utters.

So, is Wallenda crazy for doing this? Is his a journey a walk of faith or is he testing God? “I believe that God has given me a unique talent and it’s up to me on how I’m going to use that talent, how I’m going to train for that talent and how I am going to prepare for that talent,” Wallenda says in a promotional commercial for the event. “In no way do I believe that He’s magically holding me on or that there’s angels holding me up there. Not at all.” So then, why do it? “I’m incredibly excited to show the world what you can do if you put your mind to it, pursue your dreams and never give up.”

Wallenda’s journey is more like a partnership with God rather than testing his faith. He views his occupation as just another one of life’s challenges that God will help get you through if you let Him. “My faith plays an important role in my life whether it be a challenge with one of my kids being sick or whether it be a challenge of losing a family member of whether it be walking across a wire. They are all challenges. It was the way I was raised was to rely on my faith no matter what challenge I was going through. I believe that He helps keep me calm, cool and collected to be able to stay confident, to make it up this wire and to make it across to the other side.”

Wallenda is also very aware of what he is attempting to do and the ultimate risk involved. Some might call him over-confident or cocky, but he seems to have a more grounded view of his mortality. “This walk will be challenge. They all are. Every walk that I do is a challenge and every walk I am facing death. I believe that it is very important to know where you’re going when you die whether I get killed in a car accident on the way to the airport, on an airplane crash on the way home or walking the wire. It doesn’t matter. It’s important that you know that you can have that confidence…that trust…that faith about where you’re going to go.”

Today, whether he succeeds or fails, he has already made a statement in a way none of us ever could. May his walk be an inspiration to people around the world. Preach it brother.

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