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Tales abound at Weber State University Storytelling Festival
by JENNIFFER WARDELL
Feb 26, 2017 | 655 views | 0 0 comments | 13 13 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Antonio Sacre will be one of the national tellers at this year’s festival.
Courtesy photo
Antonio Sacre will be one of the national tellers at this year’s festival. Courtesy photo
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LAYTONIt’s a three-day celebration of the power of story.

The Weber State Storytelling Festival, which runs Feb. 27 through March 1 this year, features three days of storytelling designed to entertain listeners of all ages. A mix of well-known national and local tellers, as well as several dedicated volunteer storytellers, will be on hand at locations throughout Ogden and Davis County, including the Davis Conference Center in Layton. The majority of the events are free, and everyone is welcome to participate. 

“The storytelling festival is, obviously, about telling stories and the power of stories in people’s lives,” said Karl Behling, a Farmington-based storyteller who is on the festival’s steering committee and executive board.  

This year’s festival features several well-known, award-winning national performers, including Antonio Sacre, Kim Weitkamp, Bil Lepp, Sam Payne and Omar and Lori Hansen. Among the local favorites are well-known figures such as Behling and Clive Romney. 

There are also more than 60 youth storytellers participating in the event, drawn from Davis County and Ogden district schools. The tellers, who are chosen based on their performances in previous storytelling events, participate in the morning storytelling sessions and school outreach concerts.

“It’s the largest storytelling festival in the world that focuses on youth storytelling,” said Rachel Hedman, a Layton-based storyteller who serves as the festival’s storytelling chair. “There have been some years where there’s been as many as 90 youth tellers.”  

The festival will stay firmly in Ogden through Feb. 27 and 28, with storytelling sessions at Peery’s Egyptian Theater, the Ogden Eccles Conference Center, and at other locations throughout the WSU campus and city. Behling will participate in one of the Tales to Remember storytelling sessions starting at 11 a.m. at Peery’s Egyptian Theater, and will host the Family Literacy Program Story Time from 5:30-6:15 p.m. on Feb. 27 at the Elizabeth Stewart Treehouse Museum. The only ticketed event, the Storytelling Festival Banquet, will be Feb. 28 starting at 6:30 p.m. at the Timbermine Steakhouse in Ogden. 

The festival moves down to Layton on Wednesday, March 1, starting with Early Bird Stories from 9:30 a.m.-10:20 a.m. at the Davis Conference Center. The storytelling sessions continue throughout the morning at the conference center until 12:20 p.m., with a special storytelling session for toddlers running from 10:30-11:20 a.m. in the conference center’s Twilight Room. At 1:30 p.m., Bill Lepp will offer a storytelling performance in the ballroom at the WSU Davis Campus in Layton.

Then the storytellers spread out to do concerts at schools and senior centers, with Behling coming all the way to Woods Cross to perform at Odyssey Elementary. Then he’ll be back at the Davis Conference Center from 6:30-7:20 p.m. for Family Fun Scout Night, along with Steffani Raff, Clive Romney, and Sam Payne. The festival finale wraps things up starting at 7:30 p.m. in the conference center’s Ballroom B, with Antonio Sacre, Kim Weitkamp, and Bil Lepp performing their favorite stories. Rachel Hedman will serve as MC.

For the festival’s complete schedule, visit weber.edu/storytelling. 

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Antonio Sacre will be one of the national tellers at this year’s festival.
Courtesy photo
Antonio Sacre will be one of the national tellers at this year’s festival. Courtesy photo
slideshow
 © Lionsgate Premiere
© Lionsgate Premiere
slideshow
Movie Beat: More questions than answers in forgettable “Rock Dog”
by JENNIFFER WARDELL
Feb 24, 2017 | 721 views | 0 0 comments | 49 49 recommendations | email to a friend | print
 © Lionsgate Premiere
© Lionsgate Premiere
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Rated PG for action and language

Story by Ash Brannon and Zhang Jun, written by Ash Brannon, with additional story material by Denise Bradley, Vincente DiSanti, Will Finn, Carolyn Gair, Nicole McMath, Josh Zinman and Kurt Voelker

Directed by Ash Brannon

Starring Luke Wilson, Eddie Izzard, J.K. Simmons, Lewis Black, Kenan Thompson, Mae Whitman, Jorge Garcia, Matt Dillon, Sam Elliot and more

Grade: One and a half stars

There are so many things about “Rock Dog” that I don’t understand.

Not the movie itself, of course. A relatively pleasant knockoff of other, better made films, “Rock Dog” will be familiar to anyone familiar with the type of movies that go straight to DVD or some dark corner of Netflix. The animation looks simultaneously cheap and oddly detailed, the humor is surprisingly entertaining at moments, and the script is completely silly. It’s harmless but utterly forgettable, as many of these type of movies turn out to be.

But then I hear that it cost $60 million to make, which for the record is four times what it took to make last year’s “The Wild Life,” and three times what it took to make last year’s “Norm of the North.” Where did all the extra money go? Did they blow the budget on persuading J.K. Simmons to do one of the voices? Did they have to rent server space on NASA computers to do the freakishly finely wrought details on the blocky-looking characters? Did Reel FX Creative Studios, who apparently had a hand in the gorgeous “The Book of Life,” send their C-grade animators to work on this?

Though promotional materials say the movie is based on the Chinese graphic novel “Tibetan Rock Dog,” the more accurate Hollywood parlance would be “suggested by.” As far as I can tell, the only similarities between the two are part of the title and the fact that Tibetan mastiffs and wolves are among the characters. There are articles suggesting the movie tanked at the Chinese box office because of a feud between CEOs, but if they’re anything like American audiences they probably also alienated fans of the comic by forgetting to also grab the plot.

Here, the scriptwriters chose to go with a strange cross between “Kung Fu Panda” and every “struggling young musician follows his dream” movie you’ve ever seen in your life. Bodi’s a young Tibetan mastiff who helps his father protect a village of stupid but oddly adorable sheep from hungry wolves. Unlike his father, however, who can call forth sort of “Avatar: The Last Airbender”-style fireballs, Bodi just wants to play the guitar.

His father, naturally, doesn’t approve, though eventually Bodi goes down to “the city” and gets into comedic hijinks with struggling musician friends and a cat who’s every stereotype of a British rocker. Don’t try to find logic in it – you’ll hurt your head.

While I suppose it’s nice that Luke Wilson is working, the sheep are actually the best part of the whole movie. They all have the memory retention of concussed goldfish and seem utterly incapable of having an original thought, but they have a Zen-like absurdity I would have been happy to see more of. Most of the movie’s star rating is to their credit, along with a few nicely set-up jokes in other places that display the same sort of low-key ridiculousness.

Who was responsible for those moments of humor? Why weren’t they given control of more of the movie? Sadly, those are more questions I’ll probably never have the answers to. 

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