Friday, December 28, 2012

'Jack Reacher' delivers action with smarts

"Jack Reacher" opens with a shooter making preparations to go on a shooting spree. We are forced to see through the shooter's scope as he picks off five people in a crowd. This would be difficult to see in any context, but given the recent school shooting in Connecticut it is particularly rough to watch.

Despite that disturbing opening, the film does prove to be quality entertainment, as odd as that may sound. Don't mistake me here, the shooting of innocent civilians is by no means entertaining. The film is not exploitive or callous with its imagery.

The entertainment value comes from the retribution and justice dished out by Tom Cruise as the title character, a righteous ex-military cop. This isn't just some mindless revenge-film though. There is humor, ranging from slapstick to sharp, biting banter, that helps lighten the mood without going as far as trivializing the subject matter.

Reacher is the star of 17 books by Lee Child. His first film appearance is taken from the novel "One Shot." There have been rather vocal discussions from fans that the 5-foot-7 Cruise has no business playing the 6-foot-5 Reacher.

Having not read any of the books, I can't say whether Cruise captures the essence of the character, but, as the film version of the character, he's entirely believable as a tough guy able to handle himself in a five on one fight. Reacher is more than just a brute though and Cruise is also strong at portraying a brilliant investigative mind that is able to see things others have missed.

Reacher enters this story upon hearing about the shooting. He knows a secret from the shooter's past and wants to make sure he pays for his crime. His tune changes when he starts looking closer at the crime with the help of the defense lawyer (Rosamund Pike) on the case. Soon it becomes clear to Reacher that the shooting was a frame job. As he begins digging deeper he uncovers conspiracies tied to a mysterious man known as The Zec (Werner Herzog).

The film is written for the screen and directed by Christopher McQuarrie, best known for writing "The Usual Suspects." Again, having not read "One Shot," I don't know how much of the dialogue comes directly from the book, but it is sharply written and often has a sardonic wit to it. The fight scenes, which are often brutal and visceral, are also presented with a darkly comic tone.

There's an exciting chase scene featuring Cruise behind the wheel of red muscle car (a Chevrolet Chevelle SS) mostly because vintage cars look way cooler than newer ones. The chase is well executed and engaging, but the punchline to the scene is what makes the scene one of the more memorable and clever chases in recent years.

Cruise, who was also the film's producer, has surrounded himself with a solid supporting cast. Most notably the reliable character actor Richard Jenkins as a district attorney and Robert Duvall as the owner of a gun range. Duvall doesn't show up until the final third of the film, but brings an unpredictable and fun energy to the proceedings.

Pike is a good foil to Cruise, but she is a strong actress with little to play. She is mostly required to listen to Reacher's theories and be skeptical at first only to then marvel at how brilliant he is. She spends most of the film in wide-eyed shock of the unfolding events.

German director Herzog has some fun as the villain, but is largely wasted. He has one truly unsettling monologue that sets him up to be a great, memorable villain, but then he spends the rest of the film simply trying to look scary or intimidating.

It is Cruise that makes all this work. Cruise has always been a charismatic screen presence, but now the older model Cruise seems even more in control of his swagger. He flashes his charming grin a few times, but for the most, he is comes across as focused and determined. It is a performance that recalls his steel cold villainy in "Collateral," but this time used for good.

Cruise is a great movie star, so it is easy to forget how good of an actor he can truly be. "Jack Reacher" reminds you of both.

Monday, December 24, 2012

On stage: A bountiful year of theater in North Conway, N.H.

North Conway may not be Broadway, but we are blessed with three theater companies, Arts in Motion, M&D Productions and the Mount Washington Valley Theatre Company which put on productions ranging from good to excellent. The last year proved to be a bountiful year of theater.

Arts in Motion

Arts in Motion started the year off with an elaborate production of "Peter Pan" featuring two different Peters, Natasha Repass and Taylor Hill, who traded off playing the role between performances, and Paul Allen as a flamboyantly over-the-top Captain Hook.

In April, Arts in Motion presented "The Last Romance" at the Whitney Center and at Denmark Arts Center in Denmark, Maine. This one-weekend production directed by Mary Bastoni-Rebmann explored the transformational power of love. In May, there was "MOMologues," a show just in time for Mother's Day that presented a wide range of universal mom situations. In August, the kid-friendly "Charlotte's Web," and in November the special 20th anniversary original production "Shake, Rattle and Roll."

Arts in Motion's big summer show was a lively production of "Little Shop of Horrors." Director Barbara Spofford got fine performances out of the cast with Chris Madura standing out in the lead role of Seymour Krelbourn. Madura brought the nerdiness of the character across, but also managed to be a confident stage presence with a commanding singing voice.

Throughout the year, Mary Bastoni-Rebmann continued her children's theater workshops, week-long excursions into all aspects of theater, which concluded with a final performance at the end of the week.

In 2012, Arts in Motion Theater Company did fewer big long-running stage productions, but were still active in the community by collaborating with local businesses to create special events. In September, the company once again collaborated with Mount Washington Auto Road for the speakeasy casino night. In October, they teamed with Conway Scenic Railroad to put on the "Murder Mystery Dinner Train." and joined Settlers' Green to create Zombie Village, an evening that included a zombie walk, a "Thriller" flash mob and other undead antics.

M&D Productions

M&D's 2012 season, started off with the company taking their second crack at "Glengarry Glen Ross," David Mamet's look at the dark side of real estate salesmen. The production, directed by Dennis O'Neil, featured strong performances throughout. Of the stellar cast the standouts were Scott Katrycz as the loud-mouth schemer Dave Moss and Ken Martin as Shelly Levene, a man who is barely holding onto his dignity.

April's "Burn This" was an intelligent, funny and heartbreaking exploration of what it means to lose someone and the good that can come up out of the pain. Eric Jordan, normally a reliably hilarious comic relief actor, revealed previously untapped dramatic acting chops. It was an emotional raw, subtle and unpredictable performance.

The theme of confronting loss continued in May with "To Gillian on Her 34th Birthday," which focused on a weekend gathering of friends and family on the anniversary of the titular Gillian's death two years earlier. Katrycz played Gillian's husband and gave a well balanced and controlled performance that never felt maudlin. He was matched by naturalistic performances by Jessie Biggio as his daughter and Janette Kondrat as his opinionated, but caring sister-in-law. Rob Clark provided scene-stealing comic relief.

July's "Lie of the Mind," Sam Shepard's exploration of the repercussions and the self-perpetuating nature of abuse, was one of M&D's strangest, darkest, and most emotional raw productions. Kondrat gave a heart-wrenching performance as woman suffering brain damage after an attack from her jealous husband (Brian Chamberlain). Everyone in the strong ensemble cast, which included Daniel Otero, Bill Knolla, Stacy Sand and Kate Gustafson, got their moment to shine, but Christina Howe revealed previously unseen depths as an actress playing a woman full of bitter hatred and venomous vengeance.

After the intensity of "Lie of the Mind," M&D went 180-degrees in the opposite direction with August's "The Real Inspector Hound," Tom Stoppard's parody of the mystery genre. The show was fast paced, quick witted, lighthearted fun with the game ensemble cast which featured Kevin O'Neil, Martin, Jordan, Karen Gustafson, Kondrat, Knolla, Andrew Brosnan and Jane Duggan giving gleeful broad performances.

In September, M&D Productions put on "An Evening of Broadway," a collection of Broadway songs featuring standards and new soon-to-be classics. The event was a showcase for the valley's numerous exceptional singers of all ages including Polly Valiant, Megan Perrin, Ashley Iwans, Shana Myers, Kelly Karuzis, Shelly Morin and others.

October's "Halpern and Johnson," a thoughtful and funny rumination on life and love, offered a fine showcase for two actors. In the title roles, Russo and David H. Bownes play two older gentlemen, who come to find out that they both loved the same woman. It is show driven by dialogue and the strength of its two actors. Russo and Bownes both gave compelling and honest performances.
In November, M&D put on the stellar musical "Next to Normal," an exploration of the rippling influence of mental illness on a family. Holly Reville, as a mother struggling with bi-polar disorder, powerfully portrayed her character's fears and confusion. Reville shares several heartbreaking scenes with Eric Andrews as her husband, Troy Barboza as her son and Molly Paven as her daughter.
M&D ended out the year with a short, but sweet adaptation of "How the Grinch Stole Christmas" featuring Stacy Sand gloriously hamming it up as the Grinch.

Mount Washington Valley Theatre Company

"Sister Amnesia's Country Western Nunsense Jamboree," the third installment in Dan Goggin's popular "Nunsense" kicked off the Mount Washington Valley Theatre Company's 42nd season. The "Nunsense" series which features a group of singing, joke-cracking nuns from Hoboken, N.J., may be musical theater at its laziest, but at least the Mount Washington Valley Theatre's production was put on with high energy and well sung by an amicable cast. The best of the cast was Jennifer Lauren Brown as a tough talking nun from Brooklyn. Her sassy attitude shined brightly in songs like "A Cowgirl from Canarsie."

The company's fantastic ensemble also enlivened "The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee," a one-act musical comedy centered on six quirky adolescents participating in a spelling bee overseen by three eccentric adults. The show's songs are upbeat and fun, but it is the characterizations in "Spelling Bee" that stand out the most. Once again it was Brown who left the most lasting impression with the surprisingly heartwrenching "The I Love You Song."

"Stop the World, I Want to Get Off," a dated relic from 1961, concluded the season. This is a show that while featuring some lovely songs by Leslie Bricusse and Anthony Newley including "What Kind of Fool Am I" also runs rampant with sexist humor. Still, the stellar ensemble was able to rise above the material. Andy Lindberg, who appeared in the infamous pie-eating contest scene in the film "Stand By Me," starred as the philandering cad Littlechap. Lindberg had a powerful set of pipes and an easy-going likeable stage presence, despite his character's often deplorable actions. Hillary Parker was fun and funny playing the multiple roles of all of Littlechap's conquests.

Although, "Stop the World," concluded the season it was "Man of La Mancha" that stood as the strongest production of the 2012 season. Based on Miguel de Cervantes's classic 17th century novel "Don Quixote," "Man of La Mancha," uses a story frame in which a fictionalized version of Cervantes tells the story of Don Quixote in a prison during the Spanish Inquisition. Larry Daggett was tremendous in the dual role of Cervantes and Quixote. He was able to make both characters distinct. His Quixote is full of bravado and performed with a Shakespearean quality. Daggett's rich and powerful voice helped to make the show's most famous song, "The Impossible Dream" memorably moving.

Friday, December 21, 2012

A middling 'journey' to Middle Earth

Director Peter Jackson returns to J.R.R. Tolkien's Middle Earth for "The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey," the first of a new trilogy following the adventures of the hobbit Bilbo Baggins, the wizard Gandalf and a merry band of dwarfs.

Jackson has made the dubious decision of stretching "The Hobbit," a 300-page book written for children before the epic "Lord of the Rings," over three films by adding material from in the appendices of "Lord of the Rings."

When it was announced "The Hobbit" would be three films (originally planned as two), I was deeply skeptical and this first film, clocking in at 169 minutes, hasn't entirely convinced me it was the right decision. Having seen the film twice, I can say there are many great scenes that are completely wonderful, but there are also parts that feel like padding.

The film opens with a thrilling prologue in which the dwarfs lose their kingdom and wealth to the gold-coveting dragon Smaug. Then there are some pleasant, but entirely superfluous scenes with old Bilbo (Ian Holm) and Frodo (Elijah Wood). Eventually, the story begins proper with Gandalf the Grey (Ian McKellen) inviting young Bilbo (Martin Freeman) on an adventure with a motley crew of 12 dwarfs eager to take back their home and gold from Smaug.

This leads to the film's first truly delightful sequence: Bilbo dealing with the unexpected gathering of Gandalf and the dwarfs in his Hobbit hole. Freeman is hilarious in this scene as the anxiety ridden and increasingly flustered hobbit. The lively song "That's What Bilbo Baggins Hates" is a real treat.

The initially hesitant Bilbo ultimately can't resist the temptation of seeing the world outside his quiet little life and joins the adventure, which includes encounters with trolls, goblins, wolves and orcs. The confrontation with the trolls, whom intend to eat Bilbo and the dwarfs, is another fantastic scene. It is exciting with a sly sense of humor as Bilbo delays the trolls by discussing the best way to cook dwarf.

A visit to the elven kingdom of Rivendell, which in the book is time of relaxation, is full of tension. In fact much of "An Unexpected Journey" has been darkened to match the mood of Jackson's "Lord of the Rings." "The Hobbit" had a different, lighter tone than the more densely written "Lord of the Rings."

Thorin (Richard Armitage), the leader of the dwarfs, has become a brooding tragic hero on the level of Bruce Wayne. He has a nasty chip on his shoulder in regards to elves and Mr. Baggins. In terms of storytelling, this works fine for the film, but it is a departure from the book that could disappoint fans. Thorin's pride, a key theme of the story, is established, though, and will prove important in subsequent films.

The addition of a vengeful adversary from Thorin's past who is chasing after the dwarfs adds more action, but feels gratuitous rather than enriching and deepening the story.

These complaints don't ruin the film. Far from it. As was true with "Lord of the Rings," Jackson has made a film that is often astoundingly beautiful. There is so much going in every scene that you can simply stop following the characters and take in the beauty of the sets and environments. Jackson's Tolkien films are the best advertising that New Zealand — the stand in for Middle Earth — could hope for.

The acting throughout can't be faulted, although many of the dwarfs do get lost in the mix. McKellen, appearing as Gandalf for the fourth time, is still a sheer delight bringing humor, warmth, wisdom and just a hint of kookiness to the role.

Freeman is an ideal Bilbo. It is hard to imagine anyone else in the role. He brings the necessary humor to the role, but also makes Bilbo's discovery of hidden strengths feel honest. He has a speech about missing home and yet deciding to stay on his journey that is genuinely touching.

Easily the best scene in the film is Bilbo's game of riddles with the spindly schizophrenic Gollum (Andy Serkis). Elsewhere in the film, Jackson has pumped up the action significantly, but these scenes are purely character driven. Freeman and Serkis brilliantly play off of each other. Serkis, who masterfully portrayed Gollum in "Lord of the Rings" is quite possibly even better here. He deserves an Oscar.

While the battle of wits is highly entertaining, a wordless a moment of compassion and mercy from Bilbo is just as an important. It may be the single best moment of filmmaking and acting in the whole film. In a few brief seconds, Jackson expresses a whole passage from the book. It is a moment of restraint and subtlety that acts as reminder that while Jackson is a tad bit self-indulgent, he also remains a skilled filmmaker.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

12 favorite Christmas cover songs

Classic Christmas songs have been covered and reinterpreted hundreds of times over. With Christmas mere days away, here are 12 of my favorite covers of iconic Christmas songs.

"Baby, Its Cold Outside" - Zooey Deschanel and Leon Redbone
Recorded for the "Elf" soundtrack, singer/actress Zooey Deschanel was joined by the mysterious jazz/blues singer Leon Redbone. Deschanel later recorded an equally charming gender-reversed version of the song for her duo She and Him.

"The Christmas Song (Chestnuts Roasting)" - Hootie and the Blowfish
A straightforward, but highly effective cover that benefits from leader singers Darius Rucker's soulful and soothing vocals.

"God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen" - Barenaked Ladies and Sarah McLachlan
Quirky Canadian rockers play it straight creating lovely harmonies that are beautifully complemented by fellow Canadian McLachlan's powerful voice.

"Jingle Bells" - Brian Setzer Orchestra
Setzer reinterprets "Jingle Bells" with his familiar swinging rockabilly stamp. It is a hoot to hear him change the "one horse open sleigh" to a "57 Chevrolet."

"Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas" - Coldplay
A sparse take on the song that with nothing more than piano and singer Chris Martin manages to capture the pensive, nostalgic nature of the song.

"Peace on Earth/Little Drummer Boy" - Bing Crosby and David Bowie
Perhaps the most iconic cover of "Little Drummer Boy." Recorded for a Christmas special in 1977, mere months before Crosby died, Bowie didn't want to sing "Little Drummer Boy," so a new part, "Peace on Earth," was written specifically for him. The track remains one of the great collaborations for Christmas or otherwise.

"Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree" - Rubber Band
The Rubber Band took Christmas songs and mashed them up with Beatles song. In this case "Rockin' Around the Christmas" has been seamlessly blended with "I Saw Her Standing There."

"Rudolph the Reindeer" - Jack Johnson
Johnson refuses the familiar song with his unique brand of chill acoustic rock. His delivery is fun and his reworking of the lyrics are unexpected and amusing.

"Sleigh Ride" - KT Tunstall
Scottish songstress lends her voice to a buoyant, uptempo reworking of "Sleigh Ride." It is drenched in pop sheen, but undeniably infectious. Tunstall also has a wonderful live version.

"12 Days of Christmas" - John Denver and The Muppets
In 1979 Denver recorded a Christmas album with The Muppets. One of the better tracks had a different muppet taking on one of the 12 days of Christmas. Is it any surprise that Miss Piggy sings "five gold rings?"

"White Christmas" - Otis Redding
Soul singer Redding seemingly combines "White Christmas" with his own "Try a Little Tenderness" to create a fresh take on the Irving Berlin classic.

"Winter Wonderland" - Phantom Planet
Phantom Planet is best known for the song "California," but they did an equally wonderful tribute to cooler landscapes. It starts out with simple acoustic and builds to a nice pop-rock feel.

Friday, December 14, 2012

A pair of Christmas grumps take to the stage

Many of the actors are cast in several roles, which leads to some confusion. Violet Webster plays both the role of young Scrooge's fiancee Belle and, later, Mrs. Cratchit, which gives the appearance that Belle married Scrooge's clerk Bob Cratchit. This gives an unintended, albeit amusing, subtext to the proceedings.

Some of the children, though, are quite good with Sophia Gemmiti as Marley's ghost and Snowden O'Neill as Bob Cratchit as standouts. O'Neill has a great facial expression of utter confusion when Scrooge reveals his change of heart in the concluding scenes.

Robirds, a first-time actor, gets off to a rough start, but grows into the role. He's better at portraying the joyful Scrooge at the end of the story than the gruff curmudgeon of the beginning.

In addition to both being about a grump who learns the true meaning of Christmas, the biggest thing these two production have in common is narration. Narration can be a useful tool in getting information across in a play or a film, but it can also can be detrimental to the storytelling if relied on too heavily.

Clemons adaptation of "A Christmas Carol" commits one of the biggest sins of theater and film: It tells rather than shows. It feels as if half or more of this reworking of Scrooge's visitation by three ghosts is told through narration. Often Dickens' language, read by an unseen narrator, is used to describe events that aren't even happening on stage. The narration often comes across as stage directions that no one is following.

In contrast, the narration in M&D's "Who Stole Christmas?" is used sparingly and there is always a direct correlation between what is being spoken and what is happening on stage. The narrator (Cynthia Johnson) remains on stage throughout the show and at one point is even directly addressed by the Grinch (Stacy Sand).

Sand makes a fantastically gruff Grinch and is clearly having fun hamming it up as a cartoonish villain. She also gets nice support from Ryan J. Orlando and Jodi Zwicker-Perrin as Cindy-Lou's parents.

"Who Stole Christmas?" borrows elements not only from the Dr. Seuss book, but from the 1966 animated TV special and the 2000 film. From the animated version comes the iconic songs "You're a Mean One Mr. Grinch" and "Welcome Christmas" and from the film version the subplot of consumerism taking over Christmas and the song "Where Are You Christmas?," which is sweetly sung by Polly Valiant as Cindy-Lou Who.

Both productions look great. Clemons' production features a lovely painted backdrop that effectively recreates 19th-century England. The costume designs by Amy Anderson and Susan May also do a nice job at creating the look of the era.

For "Who Stole Christmas?" Deborah Jasien has constructed a wonderful Seuss-like set and costumes to match, which are nicely enhanced by makeup done by Janette Kondrat.

Director Ken Martin also keeps "Who Stole Christmas?" short at 35 minutes, making it a good show for even the youngest of children. Clemon's "A Christmas Carol" is longer, around two hours with a 20-minute intermission, making it more appropriate for older children, perhaps 7 and up.

Tickets for "A Christmas Carol" are $10 for adults and $5 for children under age 12. For more information or to order tickets, call The Eastern Slope Theater Box Office at 356-5776. Tickets for "Who Stole Christmas?" are $15 for adults, $10 for students, seniors and veterans, family four-packs are $40 and children under 5 are free. Call 662-7591 for a reservation.

Friday, December 07, 2012

A holiday film 'rises' to the occasion

Every holiday season there is at least one new Christmas-themed family movie released into theaters. Lately, these films tend to have a hip or revisionist take on the Santa Claus mythology. This year is no different with "The Rise of Guardians" presenting Santa as a member of an Avengers-esque super group of mythic childhood figures.

Based on a series of books by William Joyce, "Guardians" unites Santa (Alec Baldwin, sporting a fantastic Russian accent), the Easter Bunny (Hugh Jackman, not holding back his natural Australian accent), the Tooth Fairy (Isla Fisher), the Sandman and, the rookie of the team, Jack Frost (Chris Pine) as guardians of childhood innocence.

Their adversary is the Bogeyman, Pitch Black (Jude Law), who has long been forgotten and is eager to return with a reign of fear and nightmares. Law gives an appropriately sinister vocal performance and the character design is genuinely creepy without being too terrifying for younger viewers.

The mischievous and fun loving Jack is the main character of the story. He has no recollection of his past before gaining his powers over ice and wind and can only be seen by other magical beings. This leaves him feeling lost and confused. He reluctantly joins the team after the promise that they'll help him regain his memories.

This is all pretty standard good versus evil stuff, but it is the telling and the characterizations that make "Rise of the Guardians" unexpectedly good and rather special. The film has a good pedigree including a screenplay by Pulitzer Prize winning playwright David Lindsay-Abaire, whose plays such as "The Rabbit Hole" and "Kimberly Akimbo" blend warm humor with a searing emotional honesty.

Lindsay-Abaire brings surprising emotional weight to the proceedings, particularly to Jack's origins. The film is light and funny, but Lindsay-Abaire isn't afraid to be dark and deal with heavy emotions.

Most children's films have a theme that you should believe in yourself. While that's present in "Guardians," the message also goes a bit deeper. There's an important idea that not only is it necessary to believe in yourself, but to have others believe in you, too. One of the film's most powerful moments is when Jack is finally seen, both literally and figuratively, for the first time.

The other key name attached to the film is producer Guillermo del Toro, the visionary and imaginative filmmaker of such films as "Pan's Labyrinth." While he didn't direct the film, his visual stamp can be seen throughout much of the vivid designs of the characters and settings.

The film is visually rather stunning and manages to feel unique in a market saturated by computer animation. Sandman and his sand, in particular, stand out. Sandy, as he is nicknamed, can't speak, so his ever shifting sand does the speaking for him. On the surface he is sweet and unassuming, but his sand makes him a formidable fighter. It is an inspired variation of the Sandman character.

In fact, all of the characters are clever and creative versions of these well known figures. Santa, with his Russian accent, is a tough brawler and handy with a sword, but still retains his good cheer and sense of wonder. Baldwin has a speech about the core essence of Santa that is sweet and touching.

Jackman's Easter Bunny has a sassy attitude and snarky wit and nicely butts heads with Pine's Jack. There's a development with the Easter Bunny late in the tale that is both hilarious and adorable.

The Tooth Fairy, who has an army of hummingbird helper fairies, is underdeveloped, but nicely voiced by Fisher.

In the supporting characters category, it is revealed that it isn't the elves that make Santa's toys, but a team of yetis. This is an inspired idea and the yetis get some of the film's biggest laughs. On the other hand, the elves, which are portrayed as dimwits, come off like cheap knock offs of the minions from "Despicable Me."

"Rise of the Guardians" is more than just another Christmas movie. It is a smart, funny, heartfelt and an entirely engaging film that should appeal to both kids and adults alike.

Wednesday, December 05, 2012

When news is fake, who you gonna call?

On Tuesday, Dec. 4, news articles started floating around the Internet that Bill Murray, after years of protest, was finally signing on to appear in "Ghostbusters 3." The source for all these articles was a fake story from the website Super Official News. That this fictional story proliferated so quickly is emblematic of the current state of journalism in the brave new digital world.

A website named Super Official News should be a tip off that perhaps the news from it may not be credible, but, ignoring that, there is no indication that the website is meant as parody. Most of the content is rarely outrageous or absurd enough to be satirical.

Articles like "New Drug Craze Leaves 3 Teenagers Hospitalized," "Announced – The Big Lebowski 2: The Dude Goes To Washington," "Mars Rover Finds First Signs Of Life On The Red Planet," "Blazing Saddles The Musical Coming To Broadway" and "Papa John's Apologizes: Offers One Free Large Pizza Per Household Till The End Of The Year" are all in the realm of possibility and are written in ways that are believable.

It isn't until you scroll to the bottom of the home page that you find this disclaimer: "This entire site is pretty much just a resume containing a collection of my writings and such for the off chance that someone like The Onion ever happens to stop by."

A website like Super Official News is just proof that what the people at the satirical newspaper and website The Onion do isn't easy. Some might say you can't blame these other websites for falling for the "Ghostbusters 3" ruse, but, yes, you can and, more importantly, should.

In the era of social media and smart phones, news travels faster than ever before. It is a race to be the first to publish a juicy headline. If you can't be first then you better be damn sure to have your own story about the hot topic in hopes of driving traffic to your website.

There is no longer time to fact check. Just get the news out. Any errors can be corrected later. Can you imagine if a surgeon operated this way? "I'm pretty sure I know how to do this surgery, but, if I screw up, we can always fix it later."

Some mistakes are unavoidable in journalism, but, ideally, a story should be published with 100 percent accuracy, at least to the best of the author and their editor's knowledge. In the rush to get the news out as fast possible, accuracy is falling by the wayside.

This is a dangerous development in journalism, especially given the speed in which a story can go viral. The falseness of the "Ghostbusters 3" news is harmless, but what about when harder untrue news spreads?

Once something goes viral it is much harder to get the truth out. A follow up story or correction may go unseen once a big story starts trending. The truth can very quickly be twisted into something untrue. It is even worse if you start out with something false. We are breeding an environment of misinformation and ignorance.

It took me all of five minutes to discover the "Ghostbusters 3" news wasn't true. Increasingly, we seem to be creating a society that is no longer curious. We want news quickly, but don't take the time to digest it before moving onto the next big thing.

In this high speed world, take nothing at face value. If it isn't a source you trust, double and triple check the story. Even if it is a trusted source, be skeptical, be curious, be hungry for knowledge. There's always more to the story.