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Movie Review: The Avengers

Mike Finkelstein wants to save the world! He just put on his cape and his red boots and his spandex, and he’s off to the city to fight crime! Wheeeeeee!!! Oh, crap! An intergalactic army of aliens?!? Call someone else!!! *Runs away screaming* Here is his review of “The Avengers”.



Mike Finkelstein wants to save the world!   He just put on his cape and his red boots and his spandex, and he’s off to the city to fight crime!   Wheeeeeee!!!   Oh, crap!   An intergalactic army of aliens?!?   Call someone else!!!   *Runs away screaming* Here is his review of “The Avengers”.

PLOT: When Loki (Tom Hiddleson) summons an intergalactic army to take over the world, Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) and SHIELD call on “Earth’s Mightiest Superheroes” to save the day.   Together, Captain America (Chris Evans), Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.), Thor (Chris Hemsworth), Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson), Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner), and the Hulk (Mark Ruffalo) become The Avengers, and give us the best superhero adventure in years.

Check out the trailer:

MIKE’S REVIEW:   Ho-ly S***!   The hype is all true, my friends!   THE AVENGERS has arrived and it is every bit as amazing as it could and should be.   Joss Whedon has done the impossible and somehow incorporated all of Earth’s mightiest superheroes in a movie that is not only action packed from the first frame to the last, but also a perfect blend of that action, drama, and comedy that’ll have you wondering how the hell so many other superhero movies have gone so wrong.

After last seeing him perish into a worm hole while his adoptive father and brother looked on (could mess up anybody…), Loki is back and looking for vengeance.   The “rightful king of Asgard” wants his planet to rule, and has chosen Earth as his domain.   Enter Nick Fury and his team to assemble a band of the world’s mightiest superheroes: Tony Stark (Iron Man), Steve Rogers (Captain America), Bruce Banner (Hulk), Thor, Natasha Romanoff (Black Widow), and Clive Barton (Hawkeye).

To have such a group together for two-and-a-half hours is almost certain recipe for disaster.   There are tons of sequels and comic book movies that have crumbled under the overkill.   I still don’t know how the man did it, but Whedon created the perfect mix.   No matter whom your favorite was, every personality got their chance to shine without stealing any spotlight (amazing, especially since four characters had their own movies already) and every character had their chance to interact one-on-one with everyone else, whether it be a long fight, or just a conversation over trading cards.   They may have taken a while to gather some traction (as Stark would say), but you could feel the respect growing between the group until they ultimately did what they had to do: save the world.

And that, my friends, is the secret weapon that Whedon never forgot: the human aspect.   While the action is crammed in, Whedon slowed down the pacing just enough at points to let us know that all our favorite superheroes are still human (well, mostly…).   They have doubts and fears and demons to fight, and that is the emotional aspect so many other films either forget or over exaggerate.   (Again, the man is incredible with balancing…)   One specific conversation between Stark and Banner even left me with chills, and has my vote as the best emotional moment in the Marvel universe so far.

As for the cast, Robert Downey Jr, Chris Hemsworth, Chris Evans, Samuel L. Jackson, Scarlett Johansson and Jeremy Renner are all back in their roles that you’ve come to love them in (have to point out that Downey is still one sarcastic mother— as Stark, and Evans embodies the innocence and leadership that Captain America needs).   As for Loki, you may be skeptical of having him back so soon again as the villain, but Tom Hiddleson brings such a conflicted, brat-ish evil to the role (not to mention a hell of an army…), that you’ll welcome him back in a second.   Add on fan favorites Agent Phil Coulson (so happy that Clark Gregg really got his time to shine in this one…), Agent Maria Hill, and visits from Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow) Erik Selvig (Stellan SkarsgÃ¥rd) and Jarvis (Paul Bettany), and you got yourself a damn good time.

But with all of these amazing actors sharing a screen, it ended up being Mark Ruffalo who stole the show.   Ruffalo, who came into what seemed to be a cursed role as the Hulk (after Edward Norton dropped out, and Ang Lee destroyed it back in 2003) is our first real glimpse at what could be done with the character if handled right.   (Granted, Norton did a great job back in THE INCREDIBLE HULK…Ruffalo just calls and raises him.)   He embodies the silent, brooding scientist fighting with himself.   He knows he can’t die.   He knows he can’t get angry.   He pretty much just sits and smiles and doesn’t say much.   But when the “other guy” comes out…It. Is. On!   I don’t want to give anything away, but the things the Hulk did in those fight scenes, especially the final battle, got the crowd cheering and laughing and clapping more than anybody else in the movie. (Let’s just say he Smashed…) Here’s to hoping a HULK film is on the way…

I said it before and I’ll say it again…Joss Whedon has done the impossible.   He has created a perfectly balanced action/superhero movie not just for one hero, but for six.   He has given us a final magnificent climax over a span of almost a half hour (no quick one-two punch finish a la IRON MAN 2 here…) that holds on and never lets go.   Hell, he has even given us the first 3D post-conversation that actually looks damn good!   (Yes, that’s a real 3D recommendation from me…that’s saying something)   If you haven’t gotten your ticket for THE AVENGERS already, get it now.   Seriously…open a new tab on Firefox and buy it.   I’ll wait.   And then get two more tickets for showings later in the week.   And while you’re at it, buy me another ticket (I’ll pay for the popcorn…) This is one superhero movie you will NOT be disappointed in.


Mike’s LIKES:

1) TIME PERFECTLY SPLIT: Joss Whedon is a master of timing.   Somehow, with six superheroes in one movie (a crazy feat for anyone), the man was able to give each player their due.   No one was shortchanged, no one took the lead, and everyone had their moments to remember.

2) HERO INTERACTION: Every character had their chance to interact with everyone else.   Some moments were cute, some were filled with tension, and some were all out battles.   All were memorable, and pushed the story forward well.

3) EPIC FINAL BATTLE: For a half hour, the action did not stop.   That’s all I’m giving away.   See number 4…

4) HUMOR INTERLACED THROUGH DRAMA/ACTION: Somehow, even while we were on the edge of our seats, Whedon still found the perfect moments to insert the funny.   My favorites: Shakespeare in the Park and Hulk Punch.

5) 3D: This is a first for me, but I actually recommend that you see THE AVENGERS in 3D.   Crisp, clear, and beautiful to watch, the extra layers really do add to the experience and throw you right into the battles.   (Amazing that we’re getting that feeling from a post-production conversion…)

6) EVERYTHING ELSE:   Everything above mixed together has given us one of the best superhero movies we’ve had in years.   I’ll be in line again this weekend not as a film critic, but as a fan. I suggest you do the same.


1) NONE: Read everything above this line, and then go out and see the damn movie.


1) Edward Norton was originally set to reprise his role from THE INCREDIBLE HULK, but negotiations broke down between he and Marvel Studios.

2) Director Joss Whedon says that the original cut was over three hours long. About 30 minutes of deleted scenes will be included on the DVD release, most of which revolves around Steve Rogers (Captain America). Rumored deleted scenes: Rogers struggling to adjust to the modern world in his Brooklyn apartment; Rogers’ reunion with an aged Peggy Carter, his love interest from CAPTAIN AMERICA.

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VIDEO:Rolled Ice Cream, Cheetos Bagels And Grasshoppers Are Just Some Of The Unusual Things Brian Balthazar Has Eaten On ‘The Wendy Williams Show’



You’ve seen pop culture expert, Brian Balthazar, appear on The Wendy Williams Show quite a bit over the last few years. He even co-hosted the show on three separate occasions. It wasn’t until his last visit where he and Jason Biggs chowed down on a KFC Cheetos Chicken Sandwich that it hit me: Being on the daytime talk show makes Brian Balthazar hungry!

The proof is in the pudding…pun definitely intended. Carla Hall made sure to bring some snacks for Brian when they cohosted together.

Sure, Wendy is known for telling us to “grab a snack and come on back”…

But you’d have to be absolutely famished to want to eat fish sliders at 10am.

He’s gotten so hungry he resorted to eating GRASSHOPPER TACOS on the show!

Could it be that Brian isn’t actually hungry though? Could he just be a brave soul willing to be the taste tester so we don’t have to? Could my theory be flawed?!

I suddenly feel like maybe we owe Brian a big thanks…

Either way, it’s fun to watch! Click below to take a look at a compilation of all the fun stuff Brian Balthazar has eaten on The Wendy Williams Show!

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Get The Look! A Buyer’s Guide To Brian Balthazar’s Philadelphia Home Redesign



As the world was forced to spend more time at home, Brian Balthazar found himself in a position where he had sold a house before the lockdown and had to find a new one.

“We sold our home with all the furniture in it, so not only did we find ourselves struggling to find a new place, once we found one we didn’t have any furniture to put in it.”

And so, Brian and partner Dennis got resourceful, turning to refurbishing and buying store floor models. They were inspired to make bold, fun choices in color and style when they started shopping around for wallpaper.

Below is the segment as it appeared on the Today Show, and further down, a rundown of where you can find the pieces or ones with a similar look!


Let’s start with the Dining Room!

Move the slider dividing the image to see all of the before or all of the after!

Brian saysThe dining room was the first space we wanted to do. I haven’t had a true dining room since I was a kid, and I’ve always wanted a big table for dinner parties! There were no tables within the price range we wanted, so we found a floor model at one of our favorite go-to stores, Arhaus. We easily saved 75 percent on this table by getting the one that they weren’t going to carry anymore. The chairs are from Wayfair.  On each side of the fireplace (not seen in the photo, but visible in the Today Show video) are two black tall lanterns flanking the fireplace. I got them at Target. I can’t currently find them on their app, but similar versions pop up every year. Get thee to Homegoods! Homegoods and Homesense (same parent company) are my go-to spots for home accessories for virtually every room in the house. You never know what you’re going to find, which is part of the fun.

But let’s focus on the real WOW element to this room – the wallpaper! This pattern is called Bellewood, by RebelWalls.   As you will soon see, I’m sort of obsessed with their patterns. To me, this room is magical with the added whimsy of this forest pattern. (They also have a more muted version with grays and even one with blues.) I also love that by hanging the paper from the chair rail up, you almost get the feeling that you’re standing on a balcony overlooking the forest. I surrounded the whole room with this paper, which I love, but you could easily add the same magical feeling by just doing one feature wall. Their website shows how it can translate to a bedroom or office. You might be intimidated by hanging wallpaper but don’t be! This pattern has so much going on that it really looks perfect when it goes up!



Brian says: The guest bedroom is on the top floor of the house, so it’s got roof lines on two sides that make it a tricky space to navigate if you’re not careful. The planning of this space alone resulted in a few bonked heads. On the upside, the wall where the bed goes is tall, so it was an obvious place to create some visual pop. Again, the wallpaper takes the spotlight.  Called “Nude Roses,” also by RebelWalls, I love this design. Floral wallpaper was ‘big’ in popularity back in the 1920s when this house was built, but the patterns at that time were smaller, repeated more often, and were often really bold in color. This interpretation is so fun to me! Gone are the small roses in favor of oversized blooms, and the bold colors are more subdued pink and gray hues, with touches of dark green and creamy whites.

While roses can inherently feel feminine, the plaid bedding (30 dollars for a queen set from Target) are a surprising complement that keeps everything from feeling a little stereotypical. The side tables are mismatched – partly because we didn’t want to go too “matchy=matchy” – but also to save some money – the one on the left side (hard to catch here) was from West Elm. Normally $199, we got it for half off as the floor model. The one on the right we found in the trash. It was perfectly fine, clearly someone had just gotten tired of it! Nothing some disinfectant can’t fix. That gave us some extra money to spend – To reduce the softeness we went with industrial lamps and edison bulbs. The lamps  are called “Ginyard,” from Wayfair. The headboard was on sale at Arhaus. The dark gray takes balances out the pink hues well. The pillows are from Target and Homegoods.

For the 360 degree view of this room, watch the Instagram reel below!  You’ll see the dresser, on sale for $599 from Arhaus, a lamp from Homegoods, and mobiles from Amazon which we fashioned into a ‘piece of art’ that keeps you from hitting your head on the angled wall opposite the bed. Watch the video to check it out!


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A post shared by Brian Balthazar (@brianbalthazar)



Brian says: The idea for the basement game room was to create a space that feels like a lounge you might find if you went out with friends. When you go into this basement it definitely feels like you’ve gone someplace unique! Believe it or not, I found out the Today Show had invited me to to record my house tour just a few days in advance, and so we turned around this spot in just THREE days! There was literally no pool table at the time, (although it had already been scheduled to come on Friday, the wallpaper came on Saturday, (as well as the floor tiles!) and by Sunday we were covered in paint and glue and drinking wine to celebrate it’s completion! I recorded the final video that Monday.

Some people might not think to take a bright basement and make it dark, but that was our first instinct. Clubs are dark and moody, and we wanted this to feel like that. We painted the walls Wrought Iron by Benjamin Moore, which is a very dark gray that seems to take on different hues based on where you paint it and the light that shines on it. We painted the ceiling black. This was Thursday night! Then Friday the pool table came. The floor tiles (“Tweed Indeed” in black by Flor) hadn’t arrived until the next day, so when they did arrive I meticulously trimmed four tiles to fit around the pool table legs so it looks like they were there the whole time. I had ordered the pool table online weeks before from and by sheer coincidence it was scheduled to arrive in time for me to shoot the redesign. This was the second time I have ordered a pool table from them (which was initially scary because you’re not even seeing it beforehand!) but it always arrives in perfect condition to your specific selections. I love that the felt jet black and keeps things dark and moody. In the time that has passed since this photo was taken, I’ve added more of the carpet tiles to make the carpeted floor area darker and bigger.

But once again, the wall mural steals the show in a marvelous way! This mural is called “A Priori” from Rebelwalls, and is inspired by The Allegory of Divine Providence and Barberini Power, a famous fresco by Italian artist Pietro da Cortona. Fitting, because this house is Italian in style on the outside. You can’t see it from this photo but the wallpaper runs up part of the ceiling as well. It truly gives the room a wow factor when you enter it. The lamps are from Homegoods, (we’ve since added some industrial floor lamps for extra mood lighting) and the piano was something we brought with us. The bar tables are from Amazon ($72 each) and the stools we brought with us – they were discards from someone who didn’t like their original bright colors and thought they were dated! We covered them ourselves with gray plaid fabric and they’re better than they were new!


So there you have it! Hope you enjoyed the rooms and find something you like!

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The Pentagon Has Released Official UFO Videos Because 2020 Is The Absolute Worst



Aren’t swarms of locusts supposed to be the next installment of this plague?!

Can we finally declare 2020 as the worst year ever? In January there were fears of a third World War. In February the coronavirus began its rapid spread. In March the world essentially shut down due to social distancing and quarantining. And now in April…with only two days left in the month…we have official government footage of unidentified flying objects. I’m sorry but Milton Bradley’s game of “Life” never prepared me for any of this!

The Pentagon has confirmed the authenticity of three videos that have been circulating the web but didn’t really answer what is visible in them. In the videos, now declassified by the Department of Defense, navy pilots capture “unidentified aerial phenomena” aka unidentified flying objects aka UFOs! Pentagon officials were sure to state that the videos do not show “any sensitive capabilities or systems,” meaning we probably won’t be seeing any little green men any time soon.

The first video dates back to November 2004 and the other two from January 2015. Of the Pentagon’s confirmation of authenticity, Pentagon spokesperson Sue Gough said the videos were released “in order to clear up any misconceptions by the public on whether or not the footage that has been circulating was real, or whether or not there is more to the videos.”

So great. We now know that these strange videos are real but what exactly are we looking at? Well, the Department of Defense says it has no concrete answer as to what might be floating around the skies and has classified the phenomena as “unidentified.” And…just like that I suddenly feel less defended.

Social media is having a field day with this revelation of course. The #AliensAreReal has been trending high on Twitter since the news broke. One user referenced Independence Day and said the aliens are “getting ready for July 4th.” Of the bad timing, another wrote “Et tu aliens?” And finally one user couldn’t help avoid sarcasm and wrote”Where’s the space force when you need it?”

Well 2020, you have worked your awful black magic once again. What’s next, cat videos get banned from the internet?! You’ve taken everything else from us!

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