Midwest has never looked as fun as in ‘Cedar Rapids,’ although Ed Helms shows early signs of Michael Cera Syndrome

Cedar Rapids posterCedar Rapids (Now on DVD)

Grade: B

Starring: Ed Helms, Anne Heche, John C. Reilly

Rating: R

I thought going to Ikea with my sister was hell on earth, but it turns out I was wrong, and I’ll never complain about it again. At least it’s not an insurance convention in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.

Then again, “what happens in Cedar Rapids stays in Cedar Rapids,” according to Joan Ostrowski-Fox, played by Anne Heche in the 2011 dramedy “Cedar Rapids.” Who knows what kind of weird stuff you might encounter when you head to the “big city.” You might end up making out with a topless babe in a swimming pool, partying with a hooker or spending a little naked time with an industry big shot in the locker room.

(Suddenly I’m feeling a little cheated I didn’t experience any of this at my last journalism convention in Portland, Ore. All I got was explosive diarrhea after having lunch at Taco Bell. Maybe it’s time to move to the upper Midwest?)

In the film, small town insurance agent Tim Lippe, played by Daily Show alumnus Ed Helms, is sent from podunkville, Wisconsin, to the glorious town of Cedar Rapids for an industry convention that culminates with the presentation of the prestigious “two-diamond” award. It’s his job to bring home the trophy, proving that his company is the best in the, well, Iowa-Wisconsin-Minnesota-ish region.

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Now playing in my brain: ‘Jurassic Park’

Jurassic Park logo

I can recount just about every line from “Jurassic Park.” I’m not sure why, and I can’t help but feel like there are other, more important things for which I could use this space in my brain. For example, I would find it particularly helpful if I could remember to pay my credit card bill before the due date, set my alarm every night or get my mom something for her birthday.

Jeff Goldblum Jurassic Park

"What you call discovery, I call the rape of the natural world."

I’ve been blessed with the gift of being able to recite Ian Malcolm quotes, imitate Mr. DNA with remarkable fidelity and remember eerily specific details about the film (such as how Dr. Harding drives a gas-powered Jeep, which is bafflingly stupid in and of itself).

So, I embrace my gift. I walk around whisper-yelling “shoot her, shooooot her” and telling stories about how some west African frogs have been known to spontaneously change sex in a single-sex environment. (Come to think of it, I think I actually have an aunt who spontaneously sprouted a penis after a long weekend with her female friends. Life finds a way.)

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‘Friends with Benefits’ proves Justin Timberlake is second-worst actor ever behind Roseanne Barr

Friends with Benefits

Grade: C+

Starring: Justin Timberlake, Mila Kunis

Rating: R

Spoiler alert below (but take a wild guess how this one ends)

Just weeks after the critically acclaimed mind-bender “Black Swan” hit theaters, leading lady Natalie Portman appeared on the silver screen opposite Ashton Kutcher in “No Strings Attached”: a movie all about casual sex.

Six months later, her “Black Swan” co-star Mila Kunis appeared in “Friends with Benefits”: a complete rip-off of “No Strings Attached” that, surprisingly, received much better reviews than its counterpart.

Given that all good things come in threes, we know exactly what this means: In about six months we’ll see Vincent Cassel is the classiest movie about sex since “Deliverance.”

Vincent Cassel

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From Presidents to Pants: Rocker reinvents sound for kids

Check out my recent article with Presidents of the United States of America frontman Chris Ballew, who is now rocking out for kids with his new band Caspar Babypants! Read below or click here to read it on The Issaquah Press’ website.

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After almost 15 years of rock ‘n’ roll, Grammy-nominated Seattle musician Chris Ballew decided to turn down the gain on his amplifier. In

2009, The Presidents of the United States of America front man formed the children’s band Caspar Babypants, playing shows for parents and toddlers across Western Washington.

The group will make a stop in Issaquah May 7 for a 10:30 a.m. performance at Blakely Hall as part of a literacy event sponsored by a Community Action Grant from the Foundation for Early Learning.

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Top 10 Scariest Movies

Well, it’s Halloween, and that can only mean one thing: Tis the season for scary movies! Being a movie fanatic, and one who loves scary movies, I couldn’t help but put make a list of the scariest movies ever made.

If you don’t like my list or you disagree with my choices … well, bummer. Make your own list.

10. Deliverance (R, 1972)

I haven’t traveled all that much, but this movie has made me realize that I should put Georgia on my states-never-to-go-to list.

The plot: Burt Reynolds plays the role of an adventurer who takes a few friends —including one played by John Voight — down Georgia’s Cahulawassee River on canoes. What they find is anything but friendly.

The verdict: This movie is a classic piece of American cinema.  It’s manly, touching (perhaps a little too much so at times) and it gives you every reason you’ll ever need to prefer staying inside to exploring the outdoors.

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Lymphoma survivor takes a leading role in Seattle’s Light the Night Walk

Here’s a feature I wrote for The Issaquah Press that I thought turned out well! It printed in the Oct. 13 issue. Enjoy! Read it here on The Issaquah Press website.

In September 2009, Newcastle resident and Maywood Middle School sixth-grader Sara Flash got sick and just would not get better. Doctors tried a variety of antibiotics to treat what they thought to be an ear infection, and then pneumonia.

Weeks after first becoming sick, Sara was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin lymphoma and was at Seattle Children’s for chemotherapy.

After three months of treatment, her cancer was in remission, and last month, she helped spearhead a fundraiser aimed at finding a cure for the very disease she battled.

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It’s lovely weather for a hayride with you

Here it is, my latest column! It’s about stuff to do in the Northwest in the fall! Read it below, or on The Issaquah Press’ website here.

Zip up your coat. Turn on the windshield wipers. Put the cover back on the barbecue. The wind and rain is back.

If this makes you sad, you should really cheer up; Oprah’s favorite things come during the holiday season, but mine come during fall, and the season officially starts Sept. 23.

Of course, I should tell you that nobody reading this article will receive a free car or a trip to Australia. Sorry, but Oprah is loaded, and I’m not.

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