Girl Returns Rock to National Park With Handwritten Apology

Girl Returns Rock to National Park
(Facebook/Great Smoky Mountains)

Family trips can have a lasting impact on kids and they are quick to leave a new place with a souvenir, be it a wildly overpriced generic stuffed animal, or occasionally, something native to the location, like a seashell or rock. One young girl did just that recently on a trip to Great Smoky Mountains National Park, taking a piece of the Smoky Mountains home with her in the form of a small rock.

But, the presence of the rock weighed heavily on her conscience because taking a rock from a National Park is forbidden. Wracked with guilt, she wrote a handwritten apology note to the National Park Service and returned her beloved rock.

“Dear Park Ranger, Deep Creek was awesome,” she wrote. “I especially liked Tom Branch Falls. I loved it so much; I wanted to have a souvenir to come home with me. So I took a rock. I’m sorry, and I want to return it. Also, here’s a donation!”

Then she drew a picture of it, presumably so the Rangers could know where to return the rock.

The Park Rangers responded on Facebook, with a message that quite frankly felt a little condescending for my liking. She did a pretty cool thing, so they could’ve gone a little easier with the “now that you learned what is in the park should stay in the park” and the “if everyone took a rock, there’d be 11 million fewer rocks every year” lecture. And probably should’ve gone heavier into the “you’re a great steward for the park” angle. I also have an issue with much of the media coverage, as nearly every article refers to the “stolen rock” like it was a precious diamond whose absence was noted by literally anyone alive (it wasn’t). She clearly borrowed it.

I will concede that it was a sweet gesture to take a photo of the rock being replaced in its natural habitat. And it was probably one of the cooler things the Park Rangers get to do, as now they are back to warning people about rolling balls of poop.

Liam Neeson May Play Frank Drebin in New Naked Gun Movie

Liam Neeson Naked Gun
(20th Century Fox)

With all the remakes and reboots of classics that continue to be in development, there is one genre that never really seems to get recycled, and that’s comedies.

There have been a few attempts, like the Ed Helms version of Vacation, and a reboot of Fletch, coincidentally another Chevy Chase series, is currently in the works, with Jon Hamm (but it will adhere more closely to the series of novels than the movies). And now another classic comedy that, coincidentally, also once had Ed Helms attached may be coming soon: The Naked Gun.

The Ed Helms casting never made sense to me, because one of the things that made Naked Gun work was the fact that Leslie Nielsen wasn’t known as a comic actor, aside from his hilarious performance in Airplane!, which was also a Zucker/Abrahams/Zucker joint.

Thankfully, there’s a new name being bandied about, and he’s far from a comedian, despite how hilarious The Phantom Menace is: Liam Neeson.

Yes, I am serious, and don’t call me Shirley.

Neeson revealed that Family Guy creator Seth MacFarlane, with whom the Taken star has collaborated on A Million Ways to Die in the West, Ted 2, and several of his TV shows, has approached him to headline the Naked Gun reboot.

“I’ve been approached by Seth MacFarlane and Paramount Studios to maybe resurrect the Naked Gun films,” Neeson said while talking to People about his latest action movie, The Marksmen.

This isn’t the first time we’ve heard this idea. McFarlane himself floated Neeson as a comedy star once before.

“Generally with dramatic actors they do kinda like the idea of coming in and doing a comedy to show they can do comedy,” McFarlane said back in 2015. “Liam is great with comedy. I don’t know whether you’ve ever seen his Ricky Gervais sketch? Liam is awesome.”

He even expressed his desire to relaunch the Naked Gun with the tall Irishman.

“My dream at some point would be to do an entire movie with Liam where he does a Leslie Nielson Naked Gun kinda thing. Because he’s so good at playing against the comedy and therefore he’s hilarious. He just really knows what he’s doing.”

This is all just chatter for now, but if they do end up remaking the Naked Gun, Neeson strikes me as a great choice for Lt. Frank Drebin.

Father Figures: Tired

“My husband is the best dad in the world, but even great dads get tired!”

– Sidney Gregory

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“I’m Sending You Strength,” Ryan Reynolds Reaches Out to Fan Battling Cancer

Ryan Reynolds Video
(Twitter/CadenFanshaw)

Having a kid forced to fight cancer seems like one of the cruelest things a family can face, so anything that can bring a smile to the kid’s face must feel like gold. Ryan Reynolds came through in a big way for a young fan in that situation, sending a video message to an 11-year-old boy with Hodgkins Lymphoma and Crohn’s disease.

Ryan Reynolds is a class act, and exhibit A in how to act if you’re a movie star. Whether it’s helping a lonely kid on his birthday or sending love to a sick kid, Reynolds is there (along with the many hilarious things he does as well).

In this case, the boy’s mom had recently shared on social media that they were having a hard time, but watching the Deadpool movies was one of the things getting them through. So Reynolds sent a personal message of hope to the kid.

“Brody, it’s Ryan Reynolds, I just heard a little bit about your story and I wanted to send you this video and let you know that I’m thinking about you and I’m sending you tons of love and I’m sending you strength, whatever strength I’ve got.”

He closed the message with praise for the boy and expressing his hope they can meet in person someday.

“Man, you have a ton of people in your life that love you so much. I know you’ve been going through it, I know it’s been a challenge, but you’re just the man for the job Brody. So I’m sending you lots of love. I hope I get to meet you in person one of these days.”

His mom was over the moon, telling a Canadian news outlet that her son’s jaw hit the floor when he saw the video and kept saying “I feel like I’m the movie star.” She said when they are having a hard day, they love watching Deadpool to cheer up and that they’ve been watching the clip nonstop since he sent it. They had put the call out earlier in the week, after a hard week of chemo.

Ryan Reynolds, coming through, yet again. You can almost set your watch to how awesome Reynolds is on a daily basis.

UK Man Spent Over $400 To Learn That His Dog Was Limping Out of Sympathy

Man pays for vet visit only to learn his dog copied his limp out of sympathy
(Facebook/Russell Jones)

Dogs are wildly intelligent, but sometimes, they’re too smart for their own good. A video of Russell Jones and his sweet dog Bill has recently gone massively viral, and at first glance, it looks like the pair has seen better days. Both Jones and Bill limp slowly to their front door, Jones on crutches and Bill holding up his front paw as he hobbles alongside him.

Jones and Bill weren’t in some sort of accident. In fact, according to Bill’s vet, nothing is actually wrong. The video has been shared on Facebook over 28,000 times and has popped up on every imaginable social media site in the four days since it was posted by Russell.

“Cost me £300 in vet fees and X-rays, nothing wrong just sympathy. Love him,” Jones captioned the video.


According to Bill’s vet, a slew of tests revealed that there was nothing physically wrong with the empathetic pup. Presumably, Bill saw his human limping, and copied his behavior. While some animal behavior experts claim that limping out of sympathy is unlikely and more tests are needed, others have pointed to studies that do in fact show that dogs imitate the behavior of their pack leaders. In this case, Bill’s pack leader happens to be a human with a limp.

Fortunately, for everyone concerned, the video is something Jones has been holding onto for months. His ankle was broken in June, and he shared an updated video of Bill running around just fine in August. When Jones’s cast was removed and he was no longer on crutches, Bill seemed to realize, “oh ok, we’re not doing that anymore?” and proceeded to walk normally again. We truly do not deserve dogs.

MCU’s Moon Knight Series Pits Oscar Isaac Against Ethan Hawke

ethan hawke in moon knight
(Getty/Francois G. Durand/Dave J Hogan)

It was only last week that Disney+ finally premiered the first MCU TV show, with two episodes of WandaVision dropping Friday. In some ways, it’s totally unique – it features somewhat minor characters and the show is spoofing sitcoms of years gone by, in service of a larger mystery that will take some time to unpack.

In other ways, it’s one of many, in that there are about to be a whole bunch of MCU TV shows, including The Falcon and Winter Soldier, Loki, She-Hulk, Ms. Marvel, and more. One of the “more” is to be Moon Knight, aka Marvel’s Batman (rich vigilante), who has been many things over the years, including an ex-Marine mercenary, a vigilante (who sometimes has supernatural ties to an Egyptian god), to a guy with multiple personalities. The character is not exactly a headliner, but maybe that’s why Marvel is making sure the cast is.

Rumor has it that Oscar Isaac, an excellent actor with three Star Wars flicks under his belt, will be playing the titular Moon Knight, and now Marvel and Disney have secured his foil: Ethan Hawke.

The Hollywood Reporter broke the news that Hawke, who has been in our lives for decades, from Explorers to Reality Bites to Training Day, Boyhood, and Sinister, but has never quite gone the blockbuster or superhero route. Until now.

No one is quite sure who Hawke is playing – aside from the lead villain – but Moon Knight has an archenemy named Bushman, also a former mercenary, that may be an option. It probably doesn’t matter all that much, considering how talented an actor Hawke is.

This show is shaping up to be another interesting entry in the MCU’s increasingly diverse stable of TV shows, each with a different tone and style. We’re yet to learn what genre Moon Knight will fall into, but with actors like Isaac and Hawke leading this show, it can pretty much be whatever it wants.

Amazon’s Massive Lord of the Rings Series Is a Prequel With a Familiar Villian

Lord of the Rings Prequel
(Warner Bros)

It’s one of the most-hyped TV projects that we know the least amount about, but we’re finally starting to get some details about Amazon’s massive Lord of the Rings series set to debut later this year or in early 2022. The hype is real for the series, as Amazon invested a shocking 500 MILLION into the project, sight unseen, with a five-season minimum commitment. For Tolkien fans, this is almost as big (possibly bigger?) as the movies.

So what do we know? Amazon confirmed the series description that first appeared on TheOneRing and was also confirmed by Entertainment Weekly. And that description indicates the new series will take place during the “fabled Second Age” of Middle-earth’s history, meaning it’s set thousands of years before the Lord of the Rings and Hobbit movies.

The series “will take viewers back to an era in which great powers were forged, kingdoms rose to glory and fell to ruin, unlikely heroes were tested, hope hung by the finest of threads, and the greatest villain that ever flowed from Tolkien’s pen threatened to cover all the world in darkness.

Beginning in a time of relative peace, the series follows an ensemble cast of characters, both familiar and new, as they confront the long-feared re-emergence of evil to Middle-earth. From the darkest depths of the Misty Mountains, to the majestic forests of the elf-capital of Lindon, to the breathtaking island kingdom of Númenor, to the furthest reaches of the map, these kingdoms and characters will carve out legacies that live on long after they are gone.”

The greatest villain teased in the description is thought to be Sauron, the second Dark Lord and the creator of the One Ring. So the series has a tremendous amount to explore while keeping enough familiar characters and locales to satisfy fans of the books and movies, as it details Sauron’s rise.

The series is currently filming in New Zealand (where the movies were also shot) for the epic 20-episode first season that was intended to be released in late 2021. While no release date has been set, it is still expected to be later this year or early 2022 when we’ll finally get to return to Middle-earth.

“Really Wish My Dad Was Around to See This,” The Rock Shares “Young Rock” Trailer

Young Rock Trailer
(IG/therock)

His dad was on his mind when Dwayne Johnson finally unveiled the trailer to the “Young Rock” show, along with announcing the February 16th premiere date for the new show. The Rock took to social media to share the trailer just one day after the one-year anniversary of his dad’s passing, writing “I really wish my dad was around to see this one. Maaaaan he would’ve been proud.”

His dad (on the show) makes a cameo in the trailer, telling young Dwayne “When you dream big the sky’s the limit,” which prompts little Rock to ask for a vodka martini, before asking for their finest tequila (a nod to his current tequila empire).

 

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A post shared by therock (@therock)

The Rock joked about kicking puberty’s ass at 15 and having the tequila tycoon mindset even as a preteen, and said he “can’t wait to make you and your families laugh a little and share the life lessons I’ve learned along the way.”

His dad, the former WWE star, was obviously on his mind. He took to Instagram and talked about the influence his dad had and how he still hears his dad’s advice.

 

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A post shared by therock (@therock)

He raised a toast to his old man, saying “when a loved one dies, it reminds us how we should live.” And concluded “this toast is to all of you out there and your loved ones who are no longer with us. Let’s live with all we got, all our passion, love, ambition, humor, empathy, humanity, all of it. As the show must go on.”

We can all drink to that.

“Keep Moving Forward” – Resources For Sharing MLK’s Legacy With Your Kids

Civil rights leader Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. relaxes at home with his wife Coretta and first child Yolanda in May 1956 in Montgomery, Alabama
(Getty / Michael Ochs Archives / Stringer)

“If you can’t fly then run, if you can’t run then walk, if you can’t walk then crawl, but whatever you do you have to keep moving forward.”

Every third Monday of January we recognize the impact and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. We honor the man and his work by taking “a day on, not a day off” to learn more about the struggle for equality, and find opportunities to better our own communities in his spirit.

For a lot of kids growing up now, the history Dr. King lived and changed can feel like another era altogether, rather than a mere 53 years. According to Tanara Burke, the former associate director of the National Voting Rights Museum in Selma, AL, and the director of Just BE, Inc., “Dr. King is almost a fictional historical character to many young people…They don’t get that they are (in many cases) one generation away from him and that they are directly affected by some of the gains he and others like him fought to achieve.”

To help kids fully understand Dr. King and the world he inhabited, Scholastic has recommended a series of books for all age-groups which can help your family keep history relevant.

If You Grew Up In The Time Of Martin Luthor King

cover for the children's book If You Lived in The Time of MLK
(Exodus Books)

This series of books for grades 2-4 is a fun way to introduce children to different eras. With an engaging question-and-answer format, and full-color art children can learn what it was like to participate in the Montgomery Bus Boycott, stage a sit-in at a lunch counter, join the famous March on Washington, and more.

Martin Rising: Requiem For A King

Cover for Martin Rising: Requiem For A King
(Scholastic / Brian Pinkney)

The award-winning Pinkney duo celebrates Dr. King’s nonviolent struggle for civil rights –– as he transforms America through the spirit of love. This poetic and beautifully illustrated book for grades 4-7 conveys the final months of Martin Luther King’s life –– and of his assassination –– through metaphor, spirituality, and multilayers of meaning.

Chasing King’s Killer: The Hunt for Martin Luther King, Jr.’s Assassin

Cover for "Chasing King's Killer"
(Scholastic)

Learning about the tragedy and horror of Dr. King’s death can be as important as learning about the ideals he devoted his life to.  For older kids in grades 7-12,  bestselling author James L. Swanson gives an astonishing account of one of the saddest moments in American History. It can be tricky for parents to navigate questions about Dr. King’s murder, but it is necessary for all of us to remember how his quest for peace ended in a shocking moment of violence. Swanson’s book can help contextualize the event to teach kids how far we’ve come, and how far we have yet to go.

Along with educating our kids about history, today is an opportunity to bond with our kids on the only federal holiday recognized as a day of service. Of course, during a pandemic, serving the community can be difficult, but there are ways you can participate from home. Even attending a virtual event or talk can be the start of meaningful conversations with your kids to inspire them. The National Museum of African American History & Culture has moved their annual celebration “A People’s Holiday” online, and The King Center, Coretta Scott King’s nonprofit memorial will also be holding online events today.

For a more engaging activity, consider supporting Historically Black Colleges and Universities. HBCUs arose in the 60s as a response to education inequality, and award a large portion of bachelor’s degrees held by Black students. Advocating for these spaces honors the work done by Dr. King and encourages future heroes to find their footing. The best way to support them is by calling a local representative and advocating for continued federal spending.

However you choose to remember Dr. King with your family today and throughout 2021, you are choosing to honor history, courage, and an unrelenting pursuit of justice.

“Everybody can be great…because anybody can serve. You don’t have to have a college degree to serve. You don’t have to make your subject and verb agree to serve. You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love.”

-Dr. Martin Luthor King Jr.

Father Figures: A Spiritual Experience

“After a lengthy bout with addiction, I got sober in 2011.

After a few years figuring out who I wanted to be, I met my wife in 2014. She had a child who was 6 years old at the time and had never had a stable father figure in his life. He looked different than me and we had different interests.

After about a year, he met my best friend, whom I refer to as a brother and is African-American. I asked him if he saw the resemblance between my brother and I and he replied, ‘No, your brother has a beard.’

He doesn’t see color and teaches me something new everyday.

Being a father to this boy has been one of the most challenging and rewarding experiences of my life. All children require love – and video games. His mother and I are now expecting and I wouldn’t change a thing.

Being a dad is a spiritual experience for me.”

– Mike Lloyd

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