Monthly Archives: August 2012

Book Review: “All That is Bitter & Sweet”

A lot has been said about Ashley Judd in the media.

An eighth-generation Kentuckian, she’s an accomplished actress with a racing star husband, a “cheerleader” for the UK basketball team (University of Kentucky is her alma mater), an activist and advocate for poor and disenfranchised people, and last, but certainly not least, the daughter and sister of one of country music’s royalties, The Judds.

But we’ve only scratched the surface of her life. That is until now or shall we say about a year ago when she published her memoir “All That is Bitter and Sweet”. I’ve only recently finished the book, which took me many months to read. But in the end, I came out with a sudden appreciation and gratitude for the actress not because of her way using her celebrity to help others, but she is, in fact, a true humanitarian.

The book is not exactly a page-turner, hence why it has taken me a while to finish it, but it really opens your eyes on the depth of poverty and injustice around the world.

Judd devotes most of the book on her visits to the slums and brothels in third-world countries through her work with Population Services International and its grassroots programs. It’s astonishing to know that there are many women in those countries who are forced into prostitution and sex slavery. They are exposed to so many diseases like HIV and can’t afford the proper treatments. Passion to help and educate the less fortunate people about safe sex and use of contraception and use of cleaning drinking water is what drives Judd to be the voice of the voiceless.

You really understand that her passion for helping those less fortunate stems from her own childhood. Judd expresses in detail her personal journey of overcoming depression and sexual abuse and her path to recovery, using her faith in the God of her understanding to suppress the negativities in her life. I really enjoyed reading about her personal struggles because it demonstrates that not all of us are perfect.

Ashley Judd has used her “celebrity” with such grace, poise and confidence that it’s endearing. Few celebrities have achieved that. She is a clear example that there is hope for those who are struggling as long as we have faith and the devotion to keep that faith strong.

This is not your typical memoir, but it’s a memoir worth reading.

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Posted by on August 12, 2012 in Book Reviews


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A Chance of a Lifetime

A/N: This article was originally published in the August 1 edition of the Ephrata Review. For more information, visit

What does a Hollywood A-list cast and an Ephrata resident have in common? Quite simply, they were in a movie together.

“There is one moment where I think, if you were to look hard enough, or pause the film you might be able to see me,” said Amanda Martin.

Martin, a 2005 graduate of Ephrata High School, was among more than 11,000 extras cast in the football game scene in director Christopher Nolan’s box-office hit, “The Dark Knight Rises,” which premiered in the U.S. on July 20.

With a star-studded cast that includes Christian Bale, Anne Hathaway, Morgan Freeman, Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Tom Hardy, “The Dark Knight Rises” is Nolan’s final installment in the Batman film trilogy. The movie was shot last year in several large city locations, including New York and Los Angeles, but three weeks of the production occurred in Pittsburgh.

Shooting locations within the “Steel City” included Heinz Field, the home of the Pittsburgh Steelers, which took place last mid-August. In fact, some of its players played on the Gotham Rogues football team in the movie. Martin was there for one day of shooting as one of the thousands of “fans” sitting at the top of the bleachers near the end zone.

“I was really hoping to see myself up there in the stands, but a lot of the audience reaction shots went by so quickly, it was so hard to tell,” she said.

A huge fan of the Gotham City comics, Martin got wind of the casting call through a friend, who told her about signing up on the website. About a month before shooting, she did just that.

“The open slots were filling up quickly, so we didn’t have a lot of time to make the decision. I’ve always found the behind-the-scenes footage to be really interesting, and this was a chance to see it in person,” Martin said.

Martin then received an e-mail from a representative from the website with instructions regarding parking, arrival time and what to bring, among others.

“They had everyone park nearby and there were buses to take us directly to the stadium,” she said.

Because there was a lot of downtime between shots, production had moved in a slow pace. Martin and her fellow extras had the advantage to witness how the crew filmed a scene. Unfortunately, the extras were not allowed to take any pictures during the shoot due to an agreement each had to sign prior to production. The weather conditions depicted in the movie sharply contrasted the actual forecast during shooting.

“We were supposed to appear as if it were cold outside, so everyone had to bring winter jackets. In between scenes, we were allowed to take the jackets off, but it was incredibly hot that day,” she said. “(The crew) supplied us with sunscreen, but a lot of people, myself especially, got very bad sunburn.”

Explosive squibs were placed to simulate explosion points in order for the field to collapse. While the crew set up the field with more than 40 explosions, the extras had to practice their reactions during each boom.

“We had to pretend to be cheering and then suddenly be frightened,” Martin said. “We only had one chance to shoot the scene.”

Martin said acting frightened turned out to be an easy process.

“With the actual explosions, I found it pretty easy to act as if something terrible had just happened,” she said.

The entire cast wasn’t present during the shooting of the scene, but Martin did get a chance to see one actor in person.

“After the explosion scene, Tom Hardy (who plays Bane) came out on the field and spoke of a few of his lines,” she said. “He also helped give away the raffle prizes after the shoot was over.”

Among the raffle prizes drawn were comic book collections, signed posters, iPods and airfare and tickets to see the movie premiere.

After watching the final product on the big screen, Martin said she was happy to be involved in the experience and that the movie deserves all the hype.

“It’s a really cool feeling,” she said. “It was the kind of experience that I’m glad I did once, but I wouldn’t have to do it again anytime soon. It was definitely an unforgettable experience.”

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Posted by on August 2, 2012 in Published articles


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