Whiskey and Popcorn Reviews: What to Watch Before the Oscars

Tuesday Mahrle and Kaely Monahan

—By Kaely Monahan and Tuesday Mahrle

The Oscar nominations are out and with them come questions, confusion and snubs. For the second year in a row, no women were nominated for the Achievement in Directing — aka “best director” category. And while many film critics and industry watchers bemoan the fact that Greta Gerwig was left off the list, we on Whiskey and Popcorn are wondering why Lulu Wang (The Farewell), Olivia Wilde (Booksmart) and Marielle Heller (A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood) were also ignored. But we have your back on which films to watch before the big night, Feb. 9.

Joker — Could this be the year a superhero genre film wins best picture? We’re not so sure. But with 11 nominations, Joker is an Academy favorite. Joaquin Phoenix gives a devastating performance as Batman’s nemesis. We’re putting our money on him for the Best Actor win.

(Keon-kyo (Yeo-jeong Jo) in Parasite. Courtesy of NEON and CJ Entertainment)

Parasite — One of our top three films of 2019. The Korean film is hilarious, dark, spicy and so worth watching again and again. Director Bong Joon-ho is known for his strong social commentaries and Parasite is no exception. But we were also mesmerized by the cinematography.

Jojo Rabbit — A WWII satire is nothing new, but director Taika Waititi’s take on a little boy who “wants to be part of a club” is both adorable and heartfelt. We recommend watching this film twice as the jokes will hit you first. On the second watch, you’ll appreciate the serious undertones and beautiful character development.

1917 — This is our favorite to win Best Picture. Two WWI soldiers battle their way across No Man’s to deliver a life-saving message to their comrades. What makes the film so spectacular is the seemingly single shot it was filmed in. If you see any film in theaters this month, make it 1917.


Whiskey and Popcorn is a movie podcast by local film critics Kaely Monahan and Tuesday Mahrle. You can hear their full movie reviews on whiskeyandpopcorn.org.

FOREVER FAMILIES: Dylan is a Laid-Back Teen Who Wants a Dad

— By Clint Williams, Aid to Adoption of Special Kids

Teens typically come with drama. Not 15-year-old Dylan.

“He is literally, the most chill, laid-back kid,” says Kayla, a child specific adoption recruiter with Aid to Adoption of Special Kids (AASK).

The teen is laid back, but still loves to play.

Dylan is engaging, joking and confident as he swats baseballs at the Extra Innings Indoor Batting Cages in Mesa, carefully following the coaching of instructor Brady Hansen, who threw batting practice.

Dylan loves playing baseball — just not during the sweltering summer, jokes Kayla.

“In the summer, Dylan really likes to go swimming or hanging out inside watching movies,” she says, adding that his favorite movies feature superheroes like Spider-Man and The Hulk.

During the summer, Dylan also talks about how eager he is to get back in the classroom.

“I love school,” Dylan says.

Dylan is a high school sophomore and his schedule includes classes to prepare him for independent living.

“Dylan enjoys going to his classes, he gets good grades and he has been on the honor roll,” Kayla says.

Dylan will do well in a home with two parents or one headed by a single father. He would get along well with older siblings.

“He does really well with a strong-male figure,” Kayla says, “so having that in the home is going to be important.”


For more information on Dylan and other children in foster care who are eligible for adoption, call Aid to Adoption of Special Kids (AASK) at 602.930.4900 or visit www.aask-az.org.

Why Choosing Fabrics First Is Best

Click to read more about Barbara.

By Barbara Kaplan –

I’m sure you’ve heard the expression “the fabric of life.”  This refers to the human threads woven together from life’s experiences, which can also define our personal style. Understanding this leads to designing environments that are a holistic reflection of ourselves.

There are so many things to be considered when choosing fabric. Using different types of prints and textures together can make a personal statement. If they are very different, find a common thread to bring them together, such as repeating a color that connects them. Color is used as the magic wand to create continuity and mood in a room. It can make or break a design project. Along with the color on walls and flooring, the color you choose for your fabrics is the most powerful statement in your home.

When I start a new design project, I usually begin with fabric selection. This is a wonderful way to learn my client’s taste. As we choose fabrics, I begin to understand the colors, shapes and textures that please my clients and best expresses their personality and style. This also sets the tone for the rest of the colors and composition of the room. It’s important to always see a large sample of the fabric before making a final selection. Picture it as it relates to the entire room — not just the individual piece.

How do you begin selecting fabrics? First you must consider your lifestyle and the statement you want to make. Are you more casual, sophisticated, dramatic, whimsical…what is the function and style that best suits how you want to live? What mood do you want to achieve? What energizes you and what gives you comfort?  Consider all these questions before selecting fabrics for your furniture and window coverings. Your decisions set the tone for the rest of your environment. Your floors, your walls and fabrics all interact in the same space. So, select the balance between them carefully.

Next, your senses come into play. Do you want texture? How does it look and how does it feel to the touch when you’re sitting on it? Is it inviting and cozy? Some fabrics even make sound when you move. What about pattern? Do you like looking at florals, geometrics or solids? Do the fabrics stimulate your sense of smell and taste? Is there a particular period style of furniture to consider?

Of course, colors are critical! This may be the most important decision you make. Many of us are comfortable picking out colors and others are afraid of color. When choosing colors to live with people often are afraid of making a mistake. Picking out our wardrobe isn’t as large a scale or as permanent, but we can use those choices to help us be more confident making fabric design decisions. Interestingly, the colors we look good in are also the colors we feel good in. So why not surround yourself in those colors. (you can take the quiz on BajaroMethod.com to find out your favorite colors and style, for free).

Practicality and durability enter into your decision, too. You must evaluate the use of the fabric for different rooms and who will be mainly occupying the space.

Most important, live with what you love and don’t be afraid to take a chance if something special appeals to you. Nothing has to be permanent, and should you tire of a choice, it can be changed. You and your feelings are the main consideration. Remember, rooms have no feelings, YOU do!


Barbara Kaplan, IFDA and Allied ASID, is a Phoenix-based Holistic Interior Design consultant and the founder of Barbara’s Picks, an online resource for the best of the best Design and Lifestyle Resources. Visit barbaraspicks.com for more information.


Teaser Photo by ahisgett on Foter.com / CC BY

God is Greater Than any Challenge I Have

Pastor Paul Witkop

Click to read more about Paul Witkop

By Paul Witkop –

What is your challenge today? We all have them. The older we grow, the more we realize that despite all of our education, expertise and experience, we don’t have the answers to every problem we encounter. Sooner or later, there comes a challenge that will bring us to the humbling conclusion that we are not invincible.

One of my favorite accounts from the Bible is David and Goliath in I Samuel 17. All the odds were against David. He was young and inexperienced. Goliath was gigantic, bigger than anyone had ever seen before. I have been to the place where the battle took place. Even the geography was against David. Goliath seemed invincible.

It could be that the Goliath in your life is a medical problem, yours or someone close to you. Maybe you need a job or wisdom to decide your college major and your life’s direction. It might be a relationship challenge with your spouse, your child or a friend. Maybe it is more personal, a struggle with unhealthy habits with drugs, alcohol, food or even sexuality.

Whatever our challenge, we have two choices. We can move away from it and avoid or deny it. Or we can run toward it armed with the appropriate resources.

David told Goliath, I Samuel 17:45 You come to me with sword, spear, and javelin, but I come to you in the name of the Lord Almighty.

David’s strength did not come over night. He had spent lots of time with God. His heart had been fortified so that he knew that his strength was not in his own cleverness or his own weaponry. His strength and boldness came because he knew he was never alone. He attacked every challenge, armed with the power of the Lord Almighty.

God calls each of us to grow in our strength which is, in fact, not our strength at all. Our strength is the presence and power of the Lord. Always begin with prayer and the acknowledgement of our need for God’s guidance. Then, with God’s help, we invest the time, do the hard work, and go after it. God, with your help, we are going to conquer that giant.

Whatever your Goliath is today, there is no challenge on earth against which the power of God and your willing open heart cannot prevail.


Teaser Photo by Lucinda Lovering on Foter.com / CC BY-NC-ND

Arizona Cocktail Weekend: Three Signature Events — One Spectacular February Weekend

The ‘Cocktail Carnival’ rides into Phoenix this February as the ninth annual Arizona Cocktail Weekend(AZCW) returns Feb. 15–17, with an amazing lineup of events, parties, seminars and cocktail-fueled ballyhoo. All-new for 2020, AZCW has partnered with Phoenix based and nationally renowned, Walter Productions to host the Cocktail Carnival kickoff party Saturday, Feb. 15, sure to be their largest, most fantastic party yet at their arts gallery and events space, Walter Where?House.

Headlined by a barnstorming performance by the 20-person national touring marching band, MarchFourth (www.marchfourthband.com) and housed inside this former 1940s paper mill that’s been transformed into a magical dream factory complete with stilt walkers and twirling acrobats, the Cocktail Carnival at Walter Where?House will have to been seen to be believed. Combined with show-stopping cocktails and spirits served up by than 30 of the biggest and brightest brands in the business.

“The 2020 Arizona Cocktail Weekend and the Cocktail Carnival is going to one amazingly spectacular event,” says co-founder, Ross Simon. “Aside from the world’s best liquor brands showcasing exciting new offerings and cutting-edge bartending and techniques inside custom-staged vignettes, the famously fun MarchFourth band will be playing while walking amidst the crowd. Plus, with Walter Productions co-producing, you know they will bring their signature over-the-top artistic elements, to this one-of-a-kind event. It’s going to be one hell of a show.”

Cocktail Weekend includes the return of Top Bars Sunday, Feb. 16., the annual tasting event showcasing pop-up versions of the finest cocktail lounges from around the state, country and across the globe, all in one location. Held at the historic warehouse and newly renovated event venue, The Croft, the 2020 lineup is available on the event website.

Finally, on President’s Day (Monday, Feb. 17), it’s the return of the highly anticipated Last Slinger Standing bartending competition, pitting top mixologists from across the Southwest in a live head-to-head bartending competition. Hosted by Young’s Market Company at their “7th & Union” building (aka the standalone bar located on the property of the Phoenix based liquor distributor), come cheer on as 2019 winner, Chanel Godwin-McMaken of Little Rituals defends her crown in front of a crowd of nearly 1,000 cheering cocktail fans.

Top lounges, bars and restaurants across Downtown Phoenix and up and down Central Phoenix’s Light Rail will be hosting AZCW events, dinners and exclusive cocktail tastings. Participating venues include Bitter & Twisted Cocktail Parlour, Blue Hound & Luster Rooftop Pool Bar, Chico Malo, Dust Cutter, Little Rituals, Melinda’s Alley, Nook Kitchen, So Far, So Good at The Churchill, The Breadfruit & Rum Bar and Ziggy’s Stardust.

Once again Arizona Cocktail Weekend is dedicated to giving back to the local community, including its own dedicated 501(c)(3) charity, The Jupiter Foundation, which in 2020 is focused on supporting beneficiaries such as Local First Arizona Foundation

For additional information and tickets, visit www.arizonacocktailweekend.com.

StarGuard Lifeguard Certification Classes Offered in North Phoenix

Those who may be looking for a seasonal summer job are in luck. The City of Phoenix Parks and Recreation Department is looking to hire more than 650 lifeguards to staff Phoenix’s 29 pools. The pay is $13.80/hr.

Certification classes (five-day course) are coming up in the North Valley at Paradise Valley Pool, 17648 North 40th Street in Phoenix. The course and certification fee is $85, with classes coming up in late January, February and into March. Applicants must be 15 years old by the last day of the class, and meet other minimum requirements:

  • Swim continuously 300 yards (12 lengths of a 25-yard pool) using freestyle and breaststroke
  • Retrieve a 10-pound brick from at least 12 feet of water
  • Tread water for one minute without using hands

Work commitments include:

  • In-service training in the month of May
  • Working up to 40 hours per week for eight weeks (June and July)
  • Working weekends in August (11 pools)

Applicants may register online at www.phoenix.gov/lifeguard by selecting the “Get StarGuard Certified” link.

Photo by Dave Dugdale on Foter.com / CC BY-SA

James Beard Foundation Pop-Up Dinner to Celebrate Diversity of American Cooking

Phoenix will welcome the James Beard Foundation’s Taste America® Wednesday, Feb. 26, for a pop-up dinner as part of the larger national tour, which brings delicious food and thought-provoking conversation surrounding the nonprofit’s mission of cultivating a better food world for all.

Spotlighting issues within the Foundation’s Good Food for Good™ platform, including food waste reduction, sustainability, inclusivity and chef advocacy, the seventh annual cross-country food series will highlight the organization’s mission-forward impact programs and initiatives, while dishing out tasty bites to the food-loving community of Phoenix.

Taste America’s Phoenix Pop Up Dinner starts at 6pm Wednesday, Feb. 26, at Wrigley Mansion. The intimate dinner will feature a menu crafted by Taste America visiting all-star Kristen Kish and local all-star and host Chef Christopher Gross. The dinner will celebrate the diverse flavors, cuisines, and backgrounds that contribute to American cooking.

The Foundation has partnered with Food Recovery Network to ensure that Taste America events are Food Recovery Verified, meaning that all surplus food from the series will be recovered and donated to hunger-fighting nonprofits, who support food-insecure individuals, in each city. Through Food Recovery Verified, the Foundation can do its part to reduce food waste and hunger at the community level. 

This year marks the seventh time that the James Beard Foundation’s Taste America has visited Phoenix. Expanding for the first time to span nearly a full year, Taste America 2019–20 will travel to Atlanta; Boston; Charleston, SC; Chicago; Dallas; Denver; Houston; Kansas City, MO; Los Angeles; Louisville, KY; Miami; Minneapolis/St. Paul; Nashville; New Orleans; Philadelphia; Portland, OR; San Francisco; Seattle; and Washington, D.C.

Tickets start at $225. For a more exclusive experience, tickets for dining in a private dining room are available for $500 and up to $1,000 for a personal experience while dining in the kitchen. The Taste America Phoenix Pop-Up Dinner is presented by Capital One. Additional information can be found at www.jamesbeard.org/events/taste-america-phoenix-pop-up-dinner.

Pearl Jam North American Spring Tour Coming to Gila River Arena Saturday, April 11

In support of their upcoming Gigaton album release, Pearl Jam will embark on a North American tour including a stop at Gila River Arena Saturday, April 11.

Pearl Jam’s North American tour is in addition to the band’s previously announced European summer tour. Full details can be found at pearljam.com/tour.

Pearl Jam will release their 11th studio album, Gigaton, on Monkeywrench Records/Republic Records March 27, 2020 in the U.S. Internationally, the album will be released and distributed by Universal Music Group. Produced by Josh Evans and Pearl Jam, Gigaton marks the band’s first studio album since GRAMMY award-winning Lightning Bolt, which was released on October 15, 2013.

Gigatonis available for pre-order now at www.pearljam.com. The first single, “Dance of the Clairvoyants,” will be released in the coming weeks.

“Making this record was a long journey,” explains Mike McCready. “It was emotionally dark and confusing at times, but also an exciting and experimental road map to musical redemption. Collaborating with my bandmates on Gigaton ultimately gave me greater love, awareness and knowledge of the need for human connection in these times.”

Gigaton’s cover features Canadian photographer, filmmaker, and marine biologist Paul Nicklen’s photo “Ice Waterfall.” Taken in Svalbard, Norway, this image features the Nordaustlandet ice cap gushing high volumes of meltwater.

Tickets for Pearl Jam’s North American concerts will be made available through a Ticketmaster Verified Fan registration and ticket presale, a Ten Club presale for eligible members and a general public ticket sale. More details on all of those points of sale follow.

Ticketmaster Verified Fan registration closes Wednesday, Jan. 15, at 11:59pm PT. To register, visit https://verifiedfan.ticketmaster.com/pearljam. The Verified Fan presale then begins Thursday, Jan. 23, at 10am venue local time.

Sixth Annual ‘It’s Art for Land’s Sake’ Seeks Entries — Deadline is Feb. 7

The 20129 first place winner, “Desert Jewels” by Peggy Orbon

Early inhabitants of Arizona were drawn to the awe-inspiring landscape that is the Sonoran Desert. Its unique flora and fauna continue to draw people from all over the world to it today. Desert Foothills Land Trust understands the importance of preserving this special place for the survival of the species that dwell here and for the enjoyment of generations to come. It’s a landscape worthy of not only protecting forever but immortalizing through art as well. It’s Art for Land’s Sake is a juried art exhibit and sale designed to promote conservation and wildlife protection through representational art.

The Land Trust is hosting the sixth annual exhibit and sale at the Desert Foothills Library March 6–19 with an opening reception Thursday, March 5, from 6–8 pm. The public is invited to attend the reception, and the exhibit will be open for the duration during regular library hours. The library is located in Cave Creek at 38443 North Schoolhouse Road.

Artists of all ages and levels of experience are encouraged to submit their work. There is an entry fee of $25 per piece and all works of art must be 2D and representational of a Desert Foothills Land Trust preserve. The entry deadline is Friday, February 7, 2020 at 4pm. Entry forms and a complete copy of the rules and guidelines can be found on the Land Trust website at www.dflt.org. Entrants may also call 480.488.6131 or email info@dflt.org for more information.

All proceeds will be for the benefit of Desert Foothills Land Trust and/or Desert Foothills Library.

Rocky Point Sees Its First Cruise Ship Set Sail

After much anticipation and planning, the first cruise liner departed Thursday, Jan. 9, from Puerto Peñasco, Mexico, commonly known in the United States as Rocky Point. The Astoria Cruise Liner, owned and operated by Cruise and Maritime Voyages, is currently sailing around the Sea of Cortez and returning back to Rocky Point Jan. 20.

“This is a major step in Rocky Point’s development and growth,” stated Keith Allen, director of sales of a new and contemporary condo development Encantame Towers and founding member of Peñasco Business Coalition. “With the launch of this cruise, we are hoping that Rocky Point, with its unique location on the Sea of Cortez, will be seen as a premier, local cruise ship port. It’s just another wonderful amenity added to this safe, beautiful beach town.”

The Astoria set sail on the cruise titled “Treasures of the Sea of Cortez.” Over the course of the 11-day voyage, the ship will take passengers to eight ports along the Sea of Cortez, including Topolobampo, Mazatlan, Cabo San Lucas, La Paz, Bahia Loreto, Santa Rosalia and Guaymas. The ship itself has 250 cabins and can hold around 550 people. In addition, Cruise and Maritime Voyages arranged ground transportation from Phoenix and Tucson to Rocky Point. Most of the passengers are anticipated to be Arizonans and people from surrounding western states.

“With so many transplants to the Southwest from other parts of the U.S., there’s a huge number of people who’ve yet to experience the charm of Rocky Point first-hand,” said Steve Schwab, founder and president of Casago, a leading property management and vacation rentals company, founding member of Peñasco Business Coalition, and passenger on the Astoria. “This is yet another reason for first-time and seasoned visitors to experience Rocky Point and all its year-round offerings.”

“Puerto Peñasco is well prepared for the already growing tourism our community is seeing and we are proud to see the launch of the much-anticipated cruise, Treasures of the Sea of Cortez,” said Puerto Peñasco Mayor Kiko Munro. “New businesses, new development, and the hard work of our public safety officials make Puerto Peñasco an ideal beach destination for many Arizonans.”

There are three scheduled departures from Rocky Point for the Treasures of the Sea of Cortez Cruise on Jan. 9, Jan. 20 and Jan. 31. Following these three cruises, the Astoria will move on to other scheduled cruises launching from England in 2020. Cruise and Maritime Voyages will determine the 2021 schedule of the Astoria at a later date.

More information on the Treasures of the Sea of Cortez cruise can be found at https://us.cruiseandmaritime.com/cruise/r008/treasures-of-the-sea-of-cortez.

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