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March 1, 2012

A Byrd’s Eye View N











Safe House Not Safe Bet for Ultimate Movie Experience By Art Byrd

A Quote by“

I’ve seen enough movies to know there are only so many plots. There may be a different twist here and there, but the elements are basically the same. The movie Safe House has different twists, but it settles into a plot we’ve seen before. Safe House stars two of my favorite actors: Denzel Washington (Man On Fire) and Ryan Reynolds (Green Lantern). The story centers on Matt Weston (played by Reynolds), a CIA operative who babysits the agency’s safe house in Cape Town, South Africa. That’s where agents go when it’s too dangerous for them to be out in the open. There’s no spy action here, so Weston spends his days going crazy doing nothing. Weston yearns to be in the field, so he keeps in the touch with David Barlow (played by In Bruges’ Brendan Gleeson), a CIA higher-up who tells him to be patient. Weston is soon reminded to be careful what he wishes for. One of the CIA’s most wanted villains, Tobin Frost (played by Denzel Washington), is about to make a deal for a secret file. What makes Frost dangerous is that he is an ex-CIA operative. The CIA believes he’s been selling secrets for years. Frost finishes an exchange for the file, but a huge chase ensues through the streets of Cape Town as he’s pursued by some guys with guns. Frost comes upon the U.S embassy, and feeling the guys closing in, he surrenders.

“Acting has given me a way to channel my angst. I feel like an overweight, pimply faced kid a lot of the time - and finding a way to access that insecurity, and put it toward something creative is incredibly rewarding. I feel very lucky.” Actor, Ryan Reynolds, currently starring with Denzel Washington in the movie Safe House, in the theaters now.

March 1, 2012

The CIA back in Washington, D.C., wants to extradite Frost, but a support team can’t get there for more than 10 hours. The decision is made to take Frost to Weston’s safe house. At the house, the CIA team tells Weston to turn off the video cameras and use water torture on Frost for information. But the safe house is invaded by the same guys we saw chasing Frost. How did they find it and get in? There is an interesting exchange between Weston and Frost as the bad dudes are shooting all the CIA team. Frost says, “They want me alive. You, they will kill.” Then, he adds, “Tick, tock.” Weston and Frost escape in a car. How the bad guys’ cars are conveniently parked on a crowded street, ready to give chase, is amazing. This is where the movie gives in and completely crosses over to the unbelievable. The car chase scene through Cape Town is top notch, but the not the caliber of Steve McQueen’s Bullitt. Weston and Frost escape to a hotel where Weston contacts Barlow and other CIA officials, including Catherine Linklater (Vera Farmiga of Up In The Air), who tell him to get a package at a soccer stadium. At the stadium, Weston handcuffs Frost as they move through the soccer crowd. They retrieve the package, which has directions to another safe house. As Weston and Frost are walking back to the car, Frost yells that Weston has a gun and is trying to kill him. The security guards pull guns on Frost and Weston and take them into separate custody. Both escape and Weston tries to get Frost but ends-up losing him. The movie has a short cat-and-mouse moment as Weston tries to recapture Frost in a rundown neighborhood. What drags down Safe House is that some really unbelievable and dumb things happen. One scene has two CIA officials -- Barlow and Linklater -- traveling alone without security in separate cars to a remote area in a foreign county. One does something to the other as part of a cover-up. It was so predicable. One question I had was how were the bad guys able to show up when Weston and Frost should be safe? Someone on the inside would have to be tipping them off, but that was never addressed. The relationship between Frost and Weston is what saves the movie. Their mistrust of each other becomes the thing that saves them. Safe House is an action movie that hardly slows down, so we don’t know what the whole story is because no one can be trusted. Normally, that would be alright, but with the unbelievable things that happen, it is hard to trust the filmmakers. That is what makes Safe House an unsafe bet for those looking for a complete entertaining experience. Yet, overlooking the unbelievable things, I liked the movie. Denzel as the calculating Frost was worth the price of the movie ticket for me. Here is the trailer for Safe House:

March 1, 2012

Red Tails Flies with Historical Pride By Art Byrd One of the most underrated historical stories is that of the Tuskegee Airmen, African-American pilots in World War II. They had to overcome racism from their military peers. They did so with a record that demands respect. From 1943 to 1945, they saved hundreds of lives by shooting down more than 100 enemy planes. The movie Red Tails shows a part of their story. George Lucas of Star Wars fame is the executive producer. According to him, it took more than 20 years to bring Red Tails to the big screen. There was a lot of effort by Lucas and the writers to be as accurate as possible by meeting with surviving members of the Tuskegee Airmen. Also, they reviewed official documents and flight logbooks to get the Red Tails’ story historically right. The Tuskegee Airmen earned the moniker Red Tails because their planes’ spinners and tails were painted red. The movie is marketed as a hero film -- one to inspire a new and old generation. The best heroes are flawed but perform bravely under extreme conditions. The Red Tails pilots did that. In the movie, I don't believe they were heroes to worship. The leader of the squadron, Martin “Easy” Julian (played by Nate Parker) sometimes drank before missions to deal with his demons. Another pilot, Joe “Lightning” Little (played by David Oyelowo), was reckless and wouldn’t listen to anyone or stick to the mission plan. Lightning falls in love with an Italian woman, a subplot that results in a dramatic moment in the movie. However, I felt that the romance was not needed. There were smaller subplots involving the Red Tails’ mechanics and how their aircraft maintenance work was very important to the success of the squadron. That is rarely seen in movies -- the support group getting their due. As the reputation of the Red Tails grew, Colonel A.J Bullard, played by Terrence Howard, fought Caucasian military officers for the Red Tails to have a more active role in the battle against Germany. When given the chance, the Red Tails proved their mettle. With exceptions, the cast is made up of basically unknown actors. Cuba Gooding Jr. was great as Major Emanuelle Stance, who sends the Red Tails on their missions. But the real star of Red Tails was the great aerial fight scenes. Even though the special effects were CGI, they were amazing. You felt as though you were in battle with the Red Tails. Despite the okay acting, the weak script and the flaws of the characters, Red Tails is a movie that I’m glad was made. Here is the trailer for Red Tails:

March 1, 2012

Winking Lizard Tavern: Good Food in Blink of an Eye By Monnie Ryan To read the full version of this review, visit

Gloomy winter months almost always foster cabin fever. So when road conditions aren't hazardous, my husband, Jack, and I head out -- especially if there’s a good meal in the offing. Our travels sometimes take us to parts of the Cuyahoga Valley National Park, and on the way home we stop in Peninsula for a great meal at the Winking Lizard Tavern. As of this writing, there are 14 Winking Lizard locations, two in Columbus and the rest in the Cleveland area. The Peninsula tavern is a popular place, and it can get quite crowded at meal hours and in summer and fall when tourists and hikers are out in force. It's a true bar atmosphere - lots of wood, high tables and stools. Just inside the door, we spotted a large lizard in a glass cage; yes, folks, that lizard is very real. Before you go, do check out the full menu at the tavern’s website as well as the monthly specials specific to each location. You'll find a drink of the month. In February, it was Sara's Red Pop (Smirnoff strawberry vodka, Sprint and a touch of grenadine) for $5.75. As for the food, I love Joe's All American Chili ($2.29 for a cup). There are plenty of pizza, wings, ribs and salad options as well, but most often, we stick with sandwiches. One of my favorites is made with Black Forest ham, smoked turkey, melted Swiss cheese and hickory-apple bacon on a pretzel roll with potato pancakes; another is the Bo-Man's Honey Club, with broiled chicken breast basted in honey mustard sauce and topped with mozzarella cheese, applewood bacon, lettuce and tomato ($6.49). Jack loves the barbecue pulled pork here, and at our last visit he got the three minis that normally come with fries, substituting shells and cheese for the fries ($7.99). He's also a wrap fan, so the strip steak version with mozzarella cheese, grilled onions, mushrooms and lettuce always is a temptation ($8.49). Most of the time when we eat out, it's for a late lunch; first of all, lunch prices usually are lower, and second, if there's a bit of a drive to get back home, we can make it before dark (we concede that old folks tend to be homebodies once the sun goes down). Lunch specials at Winking Lizard are available from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., giving us quite a bit of flexibility. To be honest, we've never tried dessert here -- we're always way too stuffed by the time we finish whatever we've had for the main course. But one of these days I want to sample the funnel cake sticks, or light fried pastry sprinkled with powdered sugar and served with vanilla ice cream drizzled with caramel sauce. If you go: WINKING LIZARD TAVERN, 1615 Main St., Peninsula, Ohio 44264; 330-467-1002;; Kitchen open 11 a.m. 10 p.m. Monday through Thursday; 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday; 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday.

March 1, 2012

WHAT’S HAPPENING AROUND THE VALLEY: MARCH 2N -MARCH 9TH Ongoing The Biennial Faculty Exhibition Presented by The McDonough Museum of Art, 525 Wick Ave., Youngstown, running from through Friday, March 16. This show will feature works in various media by Studio Art Faculty in the Department of Art at Youngstown State University, and highlights the works of three new members of the faculty - Charmaine Banach, Stephen Chalmers, and Rich Helfrich. Museum hours and more information are available at 330-941-1400.

Friday, March 2nd Method 8 Performance Night Featuring talented individuals performing poetry, music and literature at 7 P.M. at Barnes and Noble in the shops at Boardman Park. Brian West, the president of Method 8, will be the host at this event, which will also include karaoke. Those individuals interested in performing must submit entries at 330-259-1279. For more information, call 234-855-7540.

Mill Creek Metro Parks /Owl Prowl 7pm. Learn about owl life and more with a presentation, a live screech owl, and a walk to look and listed for these forest residents. Due to limited seating, advanced registration is required for the presentation. Call the Ford Nature Center, 840 Old Furnace Rd., Youngstown, at 330-740-7107 to register. 1 mile.

Sunday, March 4th The Dana School of Music: Dana Vocal Society Recital Free event at 4 p.m. in the Bliss Recital Hall on the campus of Youngstown State University. For more information, call 330-941-3636.

Monday, March 5th The Ohio Cultural Alliance: Resonating Voice of the Valley Michael Wilson will depict and discuss former U.S. President and Niles native William McKinley at 6 p.m. at the McKinley Memorial, 40 North Main St., Niles. Michael Wilson will be dressed in appropriate attire for the time and has portrayed the president for more than 20 years. Cultural enrichment will be provided by a barbershop group led by Bob Gussman. For reservations and more information, visit: The Dana School of Music Recital Free performance by the students in the Flute Studio at 8 p.m. in the Bliss Recital Hall on the campus of Youngstown State University. For more information, call 330-941-3636.

March 1, 2012

WHAT’S HAPPENING AROUND THE VALLEY: MARCH 2N -MARCH 9TH (CONT’D) Tuesday, March 6th Dead Man Walking: The Journey Free presentation by Sr. Helen Prejean Tuesday, March 6, 6:30 p.m. at St. Charles Borromeo Church on U.S. Route 224 in Boardman. The program is co-sponsored by the Sisters of the Humility of Mary and the Ursuline Sisters of Youngstown, and hosted by St. Charles Social Justice Commission. For more information, call 724-964-8886.

Wednesday, March 7th YSU: Women's History Month Celebrations At 4 p.m. in the Williamson Conference Room in the Williamson College of Business, Mad Men: The Beautiful Girls, will be screened and followed by a panel discussion featuring: Dr. Stephanie Tingley, Coordinator of the American Studies Program and Professor of English; Mr. Michael Pontikos, Instructor, Department of Marketing and Advertising; Dr. Anne Harris, Professor Emeritus, Department of Geological and Environmental Sciences; Dr. Mehera Gerardo, Director of Women's Studies and Professor of History. All events are free and open to the public. For more information, contact Dr. Mehera Gerardo at

Friday, March 9th A Swinging Affair Luncheon The students of the Youngstown State University Human Ecology Department will present the event at 11:30 a.m., 11:45 a.m. and 12 Noon in Room 3112 of Cushwa Hall. A Swinging Affair is a tribute to The Rat Pack -- Frank, Dean and Sammy, and will feature Hey Hey Antipasto Kabobs, Jazzy Bruschetta, Charlie's Chicken Marsala, and Ring-a-Ding! Creamy Ricotta Cheesecake with Espresso Sauce. For tickets or more information, call 330-941-3344.

Get Your Laugh on in Warren Comedy is coming to Warren. The Warren Comedy Club will open its doors March 3 at the banquet room of the Sunrise Inn in Downtown Warren. The first act will be comedian Chris Ciardi from Pittsburgh. National acts booked are Katrina Brown April 7 and Matt Wohlfarth May 5. The club will feature local acts including well known comedian/magician Eric Thompson, who owns The Warren Comedy Club. For more information on the club or upcoming shows, visit The club is located at 510 E. Market St.

March 1, 2012

ON STAGE The Youngstown Playhouse: Romeo and Juliet Encore performance Friday, March 2 at 7:30 p.m. Tickets and more information for this classic tale are available at 330-788-8739. The Playhouse is located on 600 Playhouse Lane, Youngstown.

Youngstown State University: Medea Performances begin Feb. 23 and run through March 4 in Bliss Hall’s Ford Theater on the YSU campus. Evening performances are at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday matinees are at 3 p.m. For tickets or more information, call 330-941-3105. Parking is available in the Wick Avenue parking deck.

The New Castle Playhouse: Disney’s Mulan Running weekends March 2-11. Evening performances will begin at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday matinees will begin at 2 p.m. Mulan tells the story of a young woman who braved ostracism and war to save her father, and ultimately, her country. It includes favorite songs from the Disney movie and new ones. The New Castle Playhouse Annex Theatre is located at 212 East Long Ave., New Castle, Pa. For tickets or more information, call 724-654-3437.

Kent Trumbull Theatre: Hedda Gabler Running weekends March 9-18. Evening performances are at 8 p.m.; Sunday matinees are at 3 p.m.   Hedda Gabler tells of the story of the daughter of a wealthy general, returning from her honeymoon, who is discontented with her life but finds amusement with her late father's pistols. The theater is located at 4314 Mahoning Ave., NW, Champion. For tickets or more information, call 330-675-8887.

UPCOMING The Victorian Players: The Foreigner Running March 16-30. Evening performances will be at 7:30 pm. with matinees at 2 p.m. The Foreigner is set in a rural Georgia fishing lodge and tells the story of Charlie Baker and Froggy LeSueur. Froggy tells everyone that Charlie doesn’t speak English, so Charlie finds himself privy to assorted secrets and scandals freely discussed by the other guests. The theater is located 702 Mahoning Ave., near downtown Youngstown. Extra parking across the street at the former Flynn’s Tires.

Oakland Center for the Arts: Distracted Running weekends from March 16-31. Evening performances will begin at 8 p.m.; Sunday matinees at 2 p.m. Distracted tells the story of two parents and their search for answers regarding their 8 year old son's behavior. The Oakland is located at 220 W. Boardman St., downtown Youngstown. For tickets or more information, call 330-746-0404.

Pierce Opera House: The Man of LaMancha The musical adaptation of Cervantes classic novel about Don Quixote will be performed March 9 and 10 at 8 p.m. and March 11 at 2:30 p.m. Tickets for adults are $15 and $10 for students. For tickets or more information, call 724-815-4388 or visit The Pierce Opera House is located at 100 N. Mercer Ave., Sharpsville, Pa., on the third floor above the PNC Bank Building.

March 1, 2012

Youngstown Film Festival Seeks Submissions The Youngstown International Film Festival is seeking submissions. The festival will take place Oct. 12-14. The submission period started March 1 and ends in August. The submissions are placed through, a film festival submission service. There will be six categories and awards include Best of the Fest, Pride of Youngstown and Audience Special Selection. There also will be events such as workshops and meets-and-greets. Winning submissions will be selected by Sept. 15 and winners will be notified directly. The cost of the submission is $50. Call 330-757-7400 for more information.

Fundraiser for Young Actors Rust Belt Theater Company founder Robert Dennick Joki is holding a fundraiser to help support education young actors. He’ll perform songs written for women in his musical review I'm Not That Girl Friday, March 2 and Saturday March 3 at 8 p.m. at the Calvin Center, 755 Mahoning Ave., near downtown Youngstown. Tickets are $15. Included will be songs from such musicals as Spring Awakening, Dreamgirls, Legally Blonde, Sweeney Todd and Wicked. The show will feature guest performers Geri DeWitt, Bernadette Lim, Kelsie Moon, Marisa Zamary, and Nicole Zayas. Proceeds from the performance will benefit the Rust Belt Theater Company’s Studio for Young Actors, a program that puts local students with teaching artists in order to produce original work. The program is free for students. For reservations or more information, call 330-507-2358.

March 1, 2012

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Art Byrd Jr. has won awards as a filmmaker and journalist. After working many years as a videographer and director for WFMJ TV News, he retired from broadcasting to share his experience and insight with students as an instructor at Youngstown State University. Art has written and produced numerous Indie films, which have been shown at prestigious film festivals. In addition to teaching and writing/ producing A Byrd’s Eye View newsletter, Art also does freelance media work. He is based in Youngstown, Ohio. Michele Ristich Gatts began her full-time career in journalism with WKBN TV News, where she worked closely with radio news as well. After a decade in broadcasting, she branched into print, working five years for The Business Journal in various reporting and editorial capacities. Michele was fortunate to be recognized with a few prestigious journalism awards along the way, and has done a little teaching for YSU. She currently works as a freelance writer, editor and media consultant, and is based in Youngstown, Ohio. Contact her at Monnie Ryan retired in 2003 after 14 years as managing editor of The Business Journal in Youngstown, where she continues to contribute to the print and online editions. Articles she has written have appeared in more than 20 national publications and at several travelrelated Web sites, and she has won numerous awards for photography. Contact her at

A Byrd's Eye View-March 2, 2012  
A Byrd's Eye View-March 2, 2012  

A newsletter featuring reviews of films, TV, the arts and happening in the Mahoning Valley