Sunday, September 29, 2013

Book Review: Ozma of Oz: L Frank Baum

This is the third in the Oz series published 1907.  This book introduces us to Dorothy again, but she is not traveling with Toto, but on a ship.  She becomes shipwrecked and survives by floating away in a chicken coop.  The next morning she discovers a talking chicken in the coop, and wonder of wonders, the chicken is talking.  This lets you know that Dorothy is close to a magical kingdom, but no Oz but the Kingdom of Ev.  Dorothy discovers a wind-up man, Tik-tok.  He is not alive, but has motion, talking and thinking capabilities if he is wound up properly.  He was built by Smith and Tinker.   However in visiting the Kingdom of Ev they run into trouble.  The Ev family is captured by the Nome King.  Their aunt is in charge and she wants Dorothy's head as it is pretty and young.  She would trade one of her own for it.  Dorothy refuses and ends up in the tower, Tik Tok runs down and becomes a statue in the parlor.  Bellina the chicken ends up in the hen house.
Luckily, friends from Oz, who have traveled across the desert by way of a magic carpet, arrive they next day as they are hoping to free the royalty of Ev.  They put things right, and no one is hurt except for Bellina who has had a row with a forward rooster.  Ozma is leading the company, and we see her for the first time in the role of leader of the People of Oz.  They set off the next do for the Nome Kingdom, which is under a mountain.  The Cowardly Lion and the Hungry Tiger pull the chariot with Ozma and Dorothy and Bellina.  The Scarecrow rides the Saw Horse.  The Tin Man leads an army of 26 officers and one private. 
The Nome King has preserved the Family of Ev as bric a brac, ornaments throughout his kingdom.  He tricks the rescuers, and they all in turn join the Kings ornaments.  Dorothy makes a lucky guess, and escapes being changed.  However it is the smallest party member of all that saves the day.  She, as a chicken, was sleeping under the King's throne and woke up in time to hear the secrets which saved the company.  However she is unable to save the Tin Man, and they give him up for lost.  It is only by chance they find him, and all are happy.  Dorothy visits Oz for a few weeks, but her Uncle then is worried about her Uncle who has been ill.
A few witicisms.  When the hen can first talk she says, "If on is going to talk, it's best to talk correctly."  Talking of the army, "The generals commanded the colonels and the colonels commanded the majors and the majors commanded the captains and the captains commanded the private, who marched with an air of proud importance because it required so many officers to give him his orders.  (Reminds me of places with too many bosses and not enough workers.)  The hen requires the company to stop so she can lay her morning egg.  The Tin Man is impatient and says she must hurry.  However the Scarecrow responds, "No, no!" exclaimed the Scarecrow, "If she hurries she might lay scrambled eggs."  There is the same discussion as the past two books, heart vs. brains.  However this time Tik Tok is in the discussion, and he concedes he is inferior to his companions as he is not alive, and does not have emotions.
And this is a song the Saw Horse was singing:
"Would a wooden horse in a woodland go?
Aye, aye! I sigh, he would, although
Had he not a wooden head
He'd mount the mountain top instead."
I find L. Frank Baum to be an American treasure.  I know others have tried to write their own sequels to his stories, but nothing compares to the originals.

Movie Review: *****Breaking Dawn part 2 Twilight part 5

This move is fantastic, the best of the series.  We left Tony home, which I was happy of because I think he may have had nightmares with regards to the many heads being pulled off.  The action is intense. 
Bur this is more than an action movie.  It is a love story for a little girl, half vampire and half human.  A mother's love, a father's love, a family's love, a wolf's love.  They must protect her from the Voltari, who are afraid of anything new.
It also includes Bella resolving things with her father, just letting him know that she is alive, but not more than he needs to know.  Bella also comes to know her special powers, of protection from the powers of others, which she learns to project to others.
This show is will presented, and includes a tribute to all the actors for all four movies.  It has a way of looking back which does not detract from the story. 

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Movie Review: Breaking Dawn Part 1, Twilight 4

"Breaking Dawn part I" presents the marriage of Bella and Edward, as well as the birth of their baby.  The honeymoon is interesting.  I guess vampire babies grow fast in the womb.  The pregnancy threatens Bella's life, but she goes through with the pregnancy anyway.  Edmond changes Bella into a vampire before she dies.  The wolves decide the baby is evil, and are determined to kill her, but Jacob imprints on the baby, so its all OK in the end.  The imprinting thing is sort of vague, but that's how things work with wolfmen.  The question now is how the other vampires around the world will react to the baby when word leaks out. 

Movie Review: *****Eclipse, Twilight 3

The third move in the Twilight is *****Eclipse.  This movie has the most action. Victoria, Bella's enemy since the first movie, amasses an army of newborns, people recently turned vampires, who are more hungry and stronger than vampires.  The wolfmen join the vampires affiliated with Edmond, who are traditional enemies, in the fight against the newborns and Victoria.  It is very intense, resulting in the death of many newborns as well as Victoria.  Jacob is injured, and treated by the father of the vampires, who is also a doctor.  Bella has a choice to make, as she loves both the wolf and the vampire.  She chooses the vampire.

Book Review: Cannery Row, John Steinbeck

Cannery Row; John Steinbeck 1945.  Steinbeck is one of my favorite authors.
This book is the story of two great parties, one which goes awry, and one which hits its mark.  Doc is such a swell guy; everyone wants to throw him a party.  Mack, who describes himself as one who tries hard, but things just don’t work out for him.  And so more than the parties, are the characters involved.  Mack and his flophouse friends go on an adventure to find frogs so as to raise money for the first party.  They have a great time finding frogs, get drunk, and meet a man who gives them a pup to bring back.  They come back with hundreds of frogs.
They are able to use the frogs to purchase all the items they need for the party from Lee Chong, decorations, food, more decorations and alcohol.  They only problem is that when they have the surprise party for Doc, in his laboratory, Doc doesn’t show up.  As parties will, it gets out of hand, leaving the laboratory in ruins.  Many of Doc’s record albums are broken, as is the record player, glass is broken, books are left about; it’s a big mess.  When Doc does get home, he finds his place in shambles, and takes out his anger on Mack’s face with a couple hard blows.  He then cleans up the mess.
The second party, Doc is expecting, even though is a surprise party, he has prepared for the party.  His nicer albums he has locked away, as well as other stuff he doesn’t want broken.  There are still fights and damage, broken windows etc.  But this time Doc is part of the party, in his nostalgic way.  He quotes poetry which reminds them all of lost loves.  Lee Chong participates, giving Doc a long string of firecrackers, which they set off in the early hours of the morning.  This is a party they will remember for a long time.
Mixed in these stories of the parties are the characters.  The boy who helps Doc collect from the ocean, who is not allowed to go to school as he has a learning problem, and in his efforts to get something nice for the Doc sets himself on his way to reform school for stealing; a Chinaman who spends each night by the ocean; Malloy and his wife who live in an old boiler; the flop house friends and their dog-- bums really, but they have a place to stay thanks to Lee Chong.  Lee Chong is the Chinese grocer who is shrewd in business, and has everything you might need in his shop—but nothing is ever on sell.  There are the characters of the Bear Flag Restaurant--really a whore house; from the bouncer to the madame.
Understanding characters is what John Steinbeck is about.  To understand Doc, one must understand the tides.  He is a student of the tides, which helps him in his collecting of animals to sell to universities.  He visits La Jolla, collecting octopi.  While he is out as far as you can go, before the tide starts coming back in; he comes upon the body of a young woman under the water, wedged between a couple of rocks.  She is beautiful in her way, but also scary and mysterious.  Doc is affected by this, and reports it to a gentleman along the beach who will inform the police.
This is a fun book.  It does not have all the characters in the movie.  However I understand there is a sequel, ”Sweet Thursday.”  Some of the movie is from that book as well.

Novie Review: ****^ Twilight 2: New Moon

 "New Moon" introduces the Indian wolf men, who protect the tribe from the vampires.  The actor Taylor Lautner portrays Jacob Black, who set up with the pack to protect Bella.  This is because Edward has gone away, thinking this will keep Bella safe.This movie shows how Edward and Bella are hopelessly in love.  Bella goes through deep depression, and turns to  Jacob who is also a family friend.  However, in the end she takes greater risks with her own life, thinking it will bring Edward back.  In one of these, Edward perceives she has died through his sister's special vampire power.  In the end it is Bella who has to save Edward as he is determined to be destroyed.

Book Review: ****^Ride the Laughing Wind


I found this book in Sheri's home library.  It is written by Blaine and Brenton Yorganson and published by Bookcraft in 1984.  I enjoyed this book immensely.  It is not a book that is meant to be rushed through.  It is a slow read.  That is because of the beauty of the words.  These words are meant to be savored and not to be rushed over.

The poetry in the book is moving, and is generally in the form of a prayer.   Here is a marriage poem:

O Great Tiaowa hear the voice we send, hear the voice we send at last as one.  Wa!

Give the love Between us tenderness.  Wa!
Give this love between us honesty.  Wa!
Give this love between us playfulness.   Wa!
Give this love between us power.   Wa!
Give this love between us excitement.   Wa!
Give this love between us meaning.   Wa!
Give all this love to us, we plead, forever.   Wa!
 From this you can see why I say this is a book to be relished and enjoyed, not read quickly.
This book tells the story of a couple, who were found amongst the ruins of the ancient ones, in a cliff dwelling that no one had noticed for hundreds of years.  This is the explanation given by these two authors as to why they were there.
It is a beautiful love story, which the actors almost overlook.  However it is also a story of the ancient ways of peace, and the new ways of hate.  It is a story of betrayal.  It is a story of makeshift family.  The village of the four young people is destroyed at the first of the book, and this is their fleeing into the wilderness to escape the evil men pursuing them.   They make a family, and flourish, and this that family's story.
I enjoyed my time with this book, and recommend it to those who are interested.  I am sure you could find in through Amazon.

Movie Review: ***^Gimme Shelter; Altamont Pass Concert 1969
I watched this movie on You Tube.  Gimme Shelter is a very disturbing look at the 1969 concert at the Altamont Speedway.  It starts with the showing the summer tour of the Rolling Stones throughout the United States, and ends with the tragic free concert at the Altamont Speedway.  300,000 people crowded the speedway and the surrounding area.  There was not enough parking, not enough restrooms, and there was too much drugging and boozing.  Part of the problem was crowd control.  There was not enough security.  And Hells Angels ended up providing most of the security.  It didn't work.  There were other performers throughout the day.  Jefferson Airplane's lead singer was hit.   Mick Jagger was hit arriving at the concert.  Needless to say it was a mess.

The problems started with the venue had to be changed at the last minute.  As a result fans were allowed to get too close to the stage, and into equipment and on scaffolding.  The concert saw four births and four tragic deaths.  There was a hit-and-run acident in which a vehicle drove over two people who passed away, another person drowned in the canal which was close by.  The fourth was a tragic murder, ruled in self defense, when a young black man, high on meth, pulled a gun and was stabbed by a Hell's Angel.

The concert is from the perspective of the Rolling Stones and shows their reaction to the events.  At the moment of the murder at the concert, they knew their had been a scuffle, but not that any one had died, and went ahead and finished their concert.

A warning about the movie.  It seems some people wore less and less clothing as the concert went on, including topless men and women.

Movie Review: ****Twilight

  Twilight introduces us to the vampire movies based on the four  books by Stephanie Meyer.  I prefer the movies to the books.  The movies add more intrigue as they progress.  "Twilight" introduces us to the vampires, which is interesting.  It stars Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson as Bella and Edward.  We are introduced to vampire skills and characteristics as Bella falls for Edward.  A vampire, after smelling Bella, decides he must have her for dinner.  He takes after Bella, and her vampire lover has to save her.  The ending is intense.  Bella's leg is broke, but she makes it to prom.  (I would say too intense for children)

Friday, September 27, 2013

Movie Review: ***^Madagascar III: Europe's Most Wanted (2012)

This is an animated feature from Dream Works.  It again features the animals from the New York Zoo who are trying to get home; from Madagascar.   The French police captain steals the show as she tries to add the lion's head to her wall.  She runs through walls, licks mud, and any number of things in her pursuit.  For there part the animals avoid her by shooting she and her men from a cannon, and chasing her with a banana shooting airplane.
This movie has a greater theme, as the Madagascar animals join the circus, and then restore the energy and self confidence the performers had lost.  The tiger going through the flaming ring is incredible, but then it is animated.  I still like the way it is presented.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Musical Review: Your Heart Will Burn: Martin Handcart Company

This is the musical I wrote and we performed in the Stevens Creek Ward over 10 years ago.  It tells the story of the Martin Handcart Company and several of my ancestors.  All my kids played parts, and one night Sheri took a part as a cast member had to be out of town.  Many people did lots different things to help.  Even the bishop came up with a sound dish to capture as much of the sound as he could with one microphone.
My honest impression is we were under rehearsed, and the direction could have been better.  I must admit this is the first show I had ever directed, and it shows.  I could have done better taking notes and sharing them.
Even with these lapses, the story comes through.  We follow Isaac Wardle, a convert to Mormonism, as he travels to Utah.  we also follow a young couple, and the Ashton family.  Tragedy hits the Ashton family on the journey.  You can access the whole musical one scene at a time with the above link.

Book Review: ****^Mockingjay (Hunger Games 3)

This story starts with Catniss Everdeen having to decide if she is willing to be the “Mocking Jay” or no.  She finally agrees, if she is allowed to be the one to kill President Snow.  As such she becomes part of the public relations team to turn the rebel provinces against the Capitol.  Eventually all the districts turn, which makes for a last assault.  Much of the book centers on Peeta; who is held captive by the Capitol and Snow.  Peeta is the p.r. man for the Capitol’s cause, arguing against the war.  Those who know Peeta, and love him, when they see him on the t.v. screen, know that he has been tortured and manipulated.
Peeta is finally rescued from the Capitol, along with several other key people.  The first thing he tries to do is choke the life out of Catniss.  Turns out he had been brain washed and manipulated with the use of sting bees which cause delusions.  He has a hard time knowing what is real and what is not.
Catniss and Peeta end on a team in the Capitol.  Catniss is sure Peeta is on the team because the president of the districts wants her dead.
They fight their way to President Snow's mansion, when the most unexpected things happen.  Reading, it reminded me of the explosion in the third Star Wars, an attempt at assassination.  This explosion had the same jolting effect.  The story does not anything like you would expect, but somehow the author comes to a happy conclusion.  I think I will miss these characters.  Snow dies in the end, but Catniss doesn't kill him.

Book Review: Glinda of Oz

This story starts with Ozma going to intervene in the possible war between two groups of people in her kingdom, The Flatheads (whose brains come in cans) and the Skeezers who live on an island in the middle of a lake.  The Flatheads tried to steal the fish in the lake, and the Queen of the Skeezers Cooeeoh cursed the king's wive making her a golden pig.  Ozma and Dorothy travel together, but they are not successful in stopping the war.  However this time the King of the Flatheads, Sudic, gets the upper hand, and turns Cooeeoh into a diamond swan.  The only problem is Ozma and Dorothy and stranded on the island, which Cooeeoh, using magic, had caused to sink into the lake to keep it safe.  Glinda and a concourse of help, including the Wizard and other dignitaries come to the rescue.  It takes some problem solving and help of all, including three Adepts of Magic who had been turned to fish for many years.
These are some quotes I enjoyed

Ozma explaining why doing everything through magic is not such a good idea:  “No, no Dorothy, that wouldn’t do at all.  Instead of happiness your plan would bring weariness to the world.  If every one could wave a wand and have his wants fulfilled there would be little to wish for.  There would be no eager striving to obtain the difficult, and the pleasure of earning something longed for, and only to be secured by hard work and careful thought, would be utterly lost.  There would be nothing to do you see, and no interest in life and in our fellow creatures.  That is all that makes life worth our while—to do good deeds and to help those less fortunate than ourselves.”
Sudic: “I’m sorry we couldn’t have roast pig,” said the Sudic, “but as the only pig we have is made of gold, we can’t eat her.  Also the Golden Pig happens to be my wife, and even were she not gold I am sure she would be too tough to eat.”
“It’s no use,” said Button Bright; “the old Swan is too much in love with herself to think of anything else.”

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Doctor Who: ****Spearhead from Space

This series of four shows is on classic Doctor Who on Netflix.  It aired in 1979 and was the start of the seventh season and introduced the third Doctor played by John Pertwee.  This show also introduces the Autons and the Nestene Consciousness.  The Nestene have a power over plastics, and so this is the first Doctor Who show in which plastic comes to life.  It eventually brings to life all the store dummies, and not only do they come to life, they shoot and kill.  The goal of the Nestene is to colonize Earth, and destroy whatever is already there.
The Doctor has a new face, but he becomes a part of UNIT, an organization responsible to investigate aliens.  They are investigating the mysterious landing of comets in a pattern.  These individual comets have held the consciousness in different parts.  They have all been gathered but one, which was found and hid by a farmer.  It is this move that keeps the Consciousness from becoming fully complete, and starting the conquest of the world.  The Doctor works with Liz Shaw (Caroline John) and Brigadier Alistair Lethbridge-Stewart (Nicholas Courtney).  The Doctor is able to study the last part of the consciousness, and they discover a wax museum with new dummies of prominent world leaders.  The Nestene steal the last piece, and complete themselves, and begin the takeover of the world.  Can the Doctor use what he has learned to make a weapon to combat the Consciousness, because a bullet has no effect on the plastic dummies.
This is a really good, old Doctor Who.  I hate the ones were the dummies come to life.

Book Review: ****Catching Fire (Hunger Games II)

This is the second book in the Hunger Games Series.  It is written by Suzanne Collins and produced by Scholastic Press 2009.  It is just as good as the first in the series.  The unexpected twist is that Peeta and Catniss end back in the games for the second year in a row.  After that happened, I thought it would be too close to the first book; but it had enough twists to be interesting.  It also had just as many deaths, but this time from amongst those who have survived the hunger games at least once.  Gale (Catniss' boyfriend) is still left out, but he comes in at the end. There is also the issue of still going along with wedding plans, and announcing  a pregnancy for sympathy (but is not actually true.)  President Snow is still ruthless and sinister.  However there is a growing underground, which makes for an interesting ending.  It is left with the announcement, made by Gale at the end; District 12 no longer exists.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Book Review: ****Hunger Games

I finished Hunger Games yesterday.  It is written by Suzanne Collins and published by Scholastic Press in 2008.  It is a very good expose of youth in war, and stands up there with the Ender Books by Orson Scott Card.  I have only read the first so my comparison may be premature; but the first book was very entertaining.  It is a bit violent, but I don't think it is over done.

The premise is that, 74 years ago, because of the rebellion of the districts, and the Capitol winning the war, each district must give two children, a male and a female, who are then involved in a game to the death, with only one of the children surviving.  The children are between the ages of twelve and seventeen.  Some are better prepared than others, but each district; twelve in all (the thirteenth was completely obliterated) must give their children, as the Capitol exerts its control and demonstrates its power.  The games are used as a system of control.

The politics behind decisions make the book more interesting.  These decisions even effect who you can love.  But there is always the threat of retaliation by the government, which could include death.

The action is well done, and the lead characters, Catniss and Peeta who are in the games, and Gale who is Catniss' hunting partner, have an interesting love triangle, but Catniss is determined not to marry or have children who would be subject to the games.

My daughter recommended this book saying it is an easy and entertaining read.  This is true.  I read it in two days.  I recommend this book.

Movie Review: ***^ The Three Lives of Thomasina,

  I like "The Three Lives of Thomasina."  I liked this movie as a child.  It features the children from Mary Poppins.  They did three movies together also including Bed Knobs and Broom Sticks.  (Karen Dotrice and Mathew Garber) This show is fun, and the cat coming back to the little girl restoring her faith in the world.  It shows a father (Patrick McGoohan) torn between his civic responsibilities and responsibilities to his daughter.  The only part I didn't like was the Egyptian cat bit.  That was just stupid, but I guess you had to have some way for her to come back to life.  This is a nice presentation of Scottish culture.  The "witch lady" (Susan Hampshire) does a very good job of her part.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Movie Review: **** Glory Road

This movie is significant an important.  It is important to remember where we come from, and those moments that were really ground breaking in terms of civil right.  There is Jackie Robinson breaking into Major League Baseball and in basketball, there is the 1965-66 NCAA championship of the Texas Western Miner under Don Haskins.  Texas is in the south, and fielding a team with seven black players was unheard of.  The movie displays very well some of the racial tension at the time.  The events in the movie predate the assasination of Martin Luther King by a couple of years.
This is a movie about dreams.  The dreams of Don Haskins as the coach, and the dreams of the players.  Those dreams took these players into uncharted territory.  It would have been easy to have given up the dream.  I am glad they didn't.  Josh Lucas stars as Don Haskins.  This is an important movie for parents to watch with their children. 

Music Reviews: ****^The Best of Andrew Lloyd Webber

This is an anthology of the music created by Andrew Lloyd Webber.  It has many different artists.  The song I like the best on this CD is Donny Osmond singing "Close Every Door." Donny singing with the children's choir is just perfection.  This album also offers excerpts from "Phantom of the Opera."  It has Sarah Brightman singing "Piu Jesu." A couple other highlights are Michael Ball singing "Love Changes Everything" and Mandy Patikin and Patty Lupone singing "High Flying Adored."  Mandy Patikin is exquisite in this rendition.  I am also partial to this as this is the cast I saw in New York.  Another perfect song is Glen Close singing "With one Look."  There are a couple songs that I don't enjoy.  One is "Jesus Christ Superstar"  Combining Christ and rock music doesn't work for me.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Music Reviews: Donny Osmond ****"This is the Moment"

"This is the Moment" is an album of Donny Osmond singing songs from musicals.  Because he is putting them in the context of pop music rather than in the musical setting, they at times lack the emotion that goes with the song.  A couple cases in point would be "This is the Moment" the title song.  It just doesn't have the same flavor as when Dr Jekyll is considering consuming the substance he has created to test it.  Also his version of "Anythng's Possible" lacks the dancing fish the version of Caleb on You Tube from when he was in Suessical
However his other song from Seussical, "Solla Sollew" is very well done.  Listening to Donny Osmond and Vanessa Williams sing, "Not While I'm Around" is just beautiful.  He ventures out of the musical realm and sings "You've Got a Friend in Me" From Toy Story.  He also provides some musical theater history singing George M. Cohan's "Give my Regards to Broadway."

Movie Review: **^That Shaggy Dog

  The Shaggy Dog is a fun show, and the switch from man to dog to man is unpredictable which makes for some interesting dilemnas.  My only confusion with the show is with the young woman's father turning out to be a spy, no one really explores her feelings about it--I think she's suppose to just be OK with it.  This movie stars Tommy Kirk as the Shaggy Dog, Fred MacMurray as his father, and Annette Funicello as the girl interest  and Kevin Corcoran as the younger who prefers the dog. 

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Music Review:***^ Fleetwood Mac: Rumours

This is a documentary of the band Fleetwood Mac during a period after they were joined by two American musicians: Lindsey Buckingham vocals and guitar and Stevie Nicks vocals.  These two brought new energy to the group which already included Mick Fleetwood on drums, John McVie on bass and Christine McVie on keyboard.  This album was born in hardship.  The band had two couples, Stevie and Lindsey and John and Christine.  As they were making the album Rumours, both couples were coming to an end.  Some of the splits were very messy.  John had a very difficult losing Christine, but later realized his behavior had driven her away.  In this environment, it is hard to see how they could make music together.  They would come to the studio and not talk to each other to deal with their pain, but they would make music together.  This album was their most successful, and included their number one single, Dreams.  This song was written by Stevie Nix.  It also included one of my favorite "Go Your Own Way" which Lindsey wrote about his relationship with Stevie.  Christine wrote a popular song "You make Loving Fun" about the lighting director, not her husband.  Another popular song on the album is "Don't Stop" also written by Christine.  It is amazing these people, who really didn't want to be together could make this music.  They drew upon their pain, and put that emotion into their music.  Another force opposing their music was the drug scene.  They could talk about it later after they had become clean, but drugs was a negative influence on the band.
One thing interesting about the movie is the producers showing how different tracks were added which added depth to the music.

Movie Review: ****^ Les Miserables (2012)

I have seen a few opinions about Les Miserables from--the best movie ever to too dark.  And after visiting the theater yesterday, I can understand both remarks.  Les Miserables is a dark story to begin with.  However with all the expectations, many were predisposed that it was going to be the best ever even before seeing it.  I wave watched the ten year, and 25 year anniversary concerts over and over.  And granted those were concerts not theatrical productions but they music from those far surpasses that in the movie.  The movie was going for character and story, and took the risk of casting theatrical actors in musical parts.  Sometimes it worked, and others it didn't.  So the pluses and minuses.
Hugh Jackman as Jean Valjean worked.  His singing does not compare to Colm Wilkinson, but he carried the roll.  "Hear my Prayer" is the highlight of the show, and although I would have liked to hear Colm Wilkinson, Jackman delivered the emotion of the song such as to be effective.  It is just so beautiful the way Wilkinson holds that last note.
Russell Crowe as Javert did not work.  The song "I Swear by the Stars" sounded more like some one singing in the shower than a prayer to the stars.  Crowe did  make the suicide scene more believable than I had seen it.
The added song of Valjean singing his love to Cosette added depth to the character.  You also can love instantly.  Being a foster/adoptive parent I know this is true.
The three young people, Cosette (Amanda Seyfried) Eponine (Samantha Barks) and Marius (Eddie Redmayne) were the highlight of the show.  They carried their trio and other performing parts with energy and gusto.  I left the theater humming "heart full of love."  "On My Own" was also well done.  However keeping with the dark theme of the director, was done in the rain. Marius sang "Empty Chairs," with such beauty and emotion, I think everyone who has seen this has cried with him.
Fantine (Anne Hathaway) was somewhat of a controversy.  Lea Salonga sings which much greater skill, energy and professionalism.  However, in the mood of the film, Hathaway did an incredible job.  The song "I Dreamed a Dream" was presented later in the movie, after arriving at the bottom, rather than just starting the slide, so there was a different tone (darkness) to the song.  I especially like her in the death scene at the end. 
The innkeepers are a welcome comic relief.  The must have worked so hard at coordinating everything.  I especially like their entrance through the carriage to the wedding. 
So there are more things to like and love about this version of Les Miserables than there are to dislike.  The music is worth going to see, the action is well done, the characterization is good, and the sets are effective (except for the sewer which is over the top) and the theme that when we show love to each other, we show love to God is timeless.  Oh Colm Wilkinson does have a cameo as the priest.  His baritone voice resonates, and somehow he is in the final scene at the pearly gates.  A nice touch.  I recommend this movie, but don't go so far as to say it is the best ever.
I would not recommend this movie for children.

Movie Review: ***One for the Money

This is a 2012 Lionsgate film which features Katherine Heigl as Stephanie Plum, a bounty hunter.  She is portrayed as being over her head, as she goes after an old flame, a police officer who is accused of murder.  This movie is somewhat predictable, except for the ending.  The officer, Joseph Morelli, portrayed by Jason O'Mara is trying to prove his innocence, and eventually recruits Plum's help.  It is at that point the movie gets tense, as they face the evil heroin dealers. 

Movie Review: ****Bang the Drum Slowly,

  I enjoyed this movie more than I thought I would. It is a Paramount film from 1973, which I watched through Netflix DVD.  It stars Robert De Niro and Michael Moriarty.  It is about two ball players, working through the inevitable death of one.  The catcher, who has always been a journeymen has cancer and Hodgkin's disease.  The pitcher, is a star, and insists he stay on the team as part of his contract.  The coach is left with a mystery, and finally uncovers it.  The actor, Vincent Gardenia, who portrays the coach won an Oscar.  But the story behind this is the friendship between the two main characters, and the reaction after the year is over and they have won the pennant, but the catcher ends up in the hospital after the clinching game, and passes away during the off season.  He is almost forgotten at the end.  The song "Streets of Loredo is featured, being sung by another catcher.

We beat the drum slowly and played the fife lowly,
And bitterly wept as we bore him along.
For we loved our comrade, so brave, young and handsome,

My only complaint is the season had teams from both leagues, which made it less realistic.  But of course it was fiction.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Music Review: **^Guys and Dolls, The 50th Anniversary Cast Recording

This recording is dated 2001.  It is presented by DRG Theater.  It stars Maurice Hines, Alexandra Foucard, Diane Sutherland and Brian Sutherland.  This was presented at Washington, D.C. Arena Stage.
Ashley Orton as Adelaide, Cupertino High School
I have seen a couple versions of this show, Utah State Extension in Vernal, and Cupertino High School.  I enjoy the music from this show.  Listening to the music is also enjoyable.  My favorite songs from this show are, "Take Back Your Mink", "Luck be a Lady", "Sit Down You're rocking the Boat" and "Sue Me".  The Movie version of Frank Sinatra singing "Sue Me" is beautiful.
This CD recording includes some bonus material from Frank Loesser who wrote the music and lyrics.  This includes Adelaide which was in the movie, and a couple other songs which were cut, as well as a different version of "Luck be a Lady".
This time listening to the music, I was most touched by "Mary the Man Today".  "Marry the man today, and change his ways tomorrow."  I think Sheri has been trying to change me for 27 years, and I am failing miserably.

Book Review: Rinkitink in Oz

Rinkitin in of Oz  was published in 1916 and was the tenth book in the series.  This tale is not really about Oz, but about three islands that are on the ocean which surrounds the dessert, which surrounds the land of Oz.  Regos and Coregos are islands next to each other, and ruled by a husband and wife who are conquering people.  They have long desired to conquer the island of Pingaree.  The island has been protected by three pearls, given him to the king by the mermaids.  The pearls give, superhuman strength, protection from harm and words of wisdom.  In the past, they had come to conquer the island, but the pearls protected them.  The pearls are hid in a secret cellar in the palace.  This time when the men of the Island of Regos come to conquer, it happens so fast, the king is unable to get to the pearls, and all the people are taken prisoner, back to be slaves .  Everyone is taken, except for Inga, the kings son who hid in a tree, Rinkitink (a visiting king from another island) who had fallen in a well, and Bilbil a talking goat.  Inga retrieves the pearls, and by virtue of the pear of wisdom it lead is lead to a boat.  They pursue the conquering kidnappers.
This story has a lot of neat adventures, as Inga searches for his parents.  It takes us to the islands, which he quickly conquers with his pearls, but then he loses his pearls and for a while has to make good with what people think he can do.  However even after he has conquered both islands, he still does not find his parents, who have been sent to the kingdom of the Nomes.  It is only here that we finally meet visitors from Oz, including Dorothy, who has brought a bunch of eggs with her just in case.

Mormon Movie Review ***Split Infinity

This is a Feature Films For Families presentation and was made for them.  It was filmed through Bonneville Entertainment so likely has some Utah/ Mormon ties.
This is a depression era movie, along with modern times movie.  Melora Slover takes two roles, A.J. in modern times and Amelia Jean in the depression era.  It is about a young woman who is thinking about making money in the modern era.  This consumes her to the point it interferes with her ball playing and her relationships.  However, by some fluke she goes back in time, to just before Black Tuesday, and tries to influence her brother to make good decisions with regards to selling the farm, as she knows that it did not turn out well.  She is unable to change the past, but she does learn a lesson about priorities.  This movie is entertaining, but you can tell it is very low budget.  The ending I do not care for very much.

Movie Review: *****Unstoppable (2010)

*****Unstoppable   You would think that a train movie would be boring.  However this is a train with no driver, and runaway speed, headed for an urban area with toxic cargo and with a sharp curve with gas tanks, sure to explode in a crash.  It also has two heroes (Denzel Washington and Chris Pine) who defy orders, and chase the train down, putting their own lives in danger, but saving the day in the end.  Great ride.  Nothing to worry about for children in this movie.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Music Review: Bee Gees: In Our Own Time

Movie Review ***^Bee Gees: In Our Own Time

This documentary movie is available through instant Netflix.  This tells a story of success, several times over, but it is also a tragic story in the end.  The bulk of this documentary was made before the death of Maurice Gibbs, but even before that, it tells the tragic life of Andy Gibbs.  Andy’s life went the way of a successful musician who had gone over the edge with drugs.  It is a story we hear too often.  He was very talented and although he never became an official member to the Bee Gees, the opportunity was there for him, and he often performed with them. 
On the other hand, Maurice had his run in with alcohol.  Fortunately a family intervention got him into rehab and he was able to turn his life around.  However, at age 50 he went to the hospital with stomach pain on Wednesday, did not get better, and died of cardiac arrest during surgery on Saturday.  Maurice is intervened with his brother for much of the show, and then he isn’t there for the end. 
The other tragedy is the death of Robin Gibbs, after the making of this movie, to liver cancer in 2010.  Barry is the only surviving brother, and he is the oldest.
Things about the Bee Gees I did not know:
They started their career in Australia.
Maurice and Robin were twins and Barry three years older.
They were taken in by the same producer as the Beatles.
(This explains why they did the rock musical Lonely Hearts club band singing all Beatles songs.)
They broke up early on, and couldn’t even talk to each other for a while.  They then got together after a year with renewed energy.
They lived in Florida which gave them another new life.
They wrote and produced Saturday Night Fever for the movie, which became the second highest grossing album of all time 35 million, after Thriller at 60 million.
They were not just performers, but also song writers, and wrote for other artists.
They are in the top five of most albums sold, over 200 million.
They wrote the song Grease.

The Bee Gees were known for their falsetto voices, which wasn’t always the case.  Originally they were known for their harmonies, which was always a trade mark.  Maurice focused more on instrumentals than his brothers, although they all played.  Later in their career Robin never played. 

These three brothers had something special.  They started singing together when they were six and nine respectfully.  They discovered they could make harmonies together.  There career spanned almost fifty years together.  They saw many different eras of music from early rock and roll, harder rock and roll, rhythm and Blues, disco etc.  They have blessed many lives with their music, love songs like “How Deep is Your Love?” rhythmic music like “Jive Talkin” and classics like “Stayin Alive”.  As I watched this, I had a lot of that was theirs? moments.

Movie Review: ****^Spider Man III

In this were are introduced to the Sand Man, who actually shot Uncle Ben.  Spider Man also faces his dark side, as he comes in contact with an alien symbiotic organism. Peter is then faced with a darker alter ego.  He becomes mean to those around him, but finally beats the symbiode off, and the symbiode attaches to Peter's rival photographer at the Bugle, making Carnage who becomes Spider Man's other rival.  They gang up on him.  In the mean time Harry has become the Green Goblin, and had run ins with Spider Man.  However the Green Goblin comes to Spidey's rescue in the end.  I really dislike the reporters when Spider Man is getting beat up.  They detract from the action rather than adding to it.
Tony loves Spider Man and talking about the symbiode that crashed from outer space and made Black Spider Man and Carnage. 

Movie Reviews:*****Spider-Man II

***** Spider Man II: This movie takes up where the last left off.  Harry has a sense of vengeance  against Spider Man.  This effects all he does, and his relationship with Peter Parker.  The relationship between Mary (whose hair has toned down some) and Peter continues to bloom, even through a wedding to The Bugle editor's (J Jonah Jameson's) son and Mary Jane.  She shows up at Peter's in her wedding dress, after fleeing the ceremony,  how romantic.  In the meantime Peter makes a friend with Dr. Octavius, whose experiment with nuclear fusion goes awry, turning him into a super villain with eight limbs, four metallic.  He makes a worthy bad guy as the robotics takes over his conscience.  Of course Mary Jane is put in harms way, and she discovers Peter is Spider Man.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Movie Reviews: *****Spider-Man


*****Spider Man: This movie introduced us to Tobey Maguire and Kirsten Dunst, who had flaming red hair in the first movie of the trilogy.  We also see Mary Jane's family, and next door, Peter Parker living with his Aunt and Uncle.  Peter the nerd, becomes Spider Man, after a trip to a science laboratory and a spider bite.  He then faces the Green Goblin, (Willem Dafoe) who is Harry's (James Franco) father.  Harry is his best friend.  The action is great, as is the budding relationship between Mary Jane and Peter Parker.  We also see the emotions of the change, and accepting the responsibility of being a super hero.  Finally Peter realizes those he loves are in harms way, and this affects all he does.  Harry, dates Mary Jane, and Spider Man and the Green Goblin have a war, which results in the Goblin's death.  My only complaint, we want to know how Peter came to live with his aunt and uncle.

Book Review: Winnie-the-Pooh

This story is told in the manner of the author telling stories to his son, Christopher Robin, who is also a character in the stories.  Book is written by A.A. Milne and illustrations by E.H. Shepard.  In this book we have many of the stories that where made unforgettable by Disney.  We see Pooh getting the honey by pretending to be a rain cloud, we see Pooh getting stuck in rabbits hold from eating too much honey, we see a big storm and Piglet being trapped in the middle of a flood.  The characters in the book include the story teller, Christopher Robin, Pooh, Owl, Rabbit, Piglet, Kanga and Roo.  When Kanga and Roo are new, Rabbit hatches a plan to steal Roo, so they will move away.  Yje kidnapping works, Piglet taking Roo's place, but Kanga gets the last laugh, giving Piglet a nice bath, with scrubbing and everything.  Rabbit befriends Roo, and there is no longer talk of trying to get them to leave. 

Movie Review: ****North by Northwest

This is a classic Alfred Hitchcock suspense spy movie.  It has everything that a good movie needs.  It has mistaken identity, murder and a pretty girl, who just happens to be on the wrong side, but on the right side pretending to be on the wrong side.  Cary Grant stars as Roger Thornhill and is mistaken for a fake person set up by the CIA to draw out a group of spies.  It draws them out, as the kidnap our star.  They attempt to kill him, by filling him with alcohol and sending him down a steep hill in a car.  He gets picked up for drunk driving, but survives.  He then confronts the spy at the U.N., but the person is not the actual person but was using his home only.  However the U.N. ambassador is killed by a thrown knife, and our Thornhill is blamed, and on the run.  He gets on a train headed for Chicago, while still being chased by the police.  However there is a girl who saves him, Eve Kendall played by Eva Marie Saint.  However she is with the bad guys and sets him up to be murdered.  There is a classic scene of his dodging a crop dusting airplane.  He is then recruited by the CIA as they explain everything.  Turns out the girl is their secret inside agent, and Thornhill decides he has to save her.  He is then off to Mt. Rushmore to stage his own death, or the death of the pretend spy set up by the CIA.  It almost works, but one of the spies realizes it was a fake death.  This show ends with a chase scene on the face of Mt. Rushmore.  Fun stuff.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Music Movie Review: ****Taylor Swift: Journey to Fearless

I guess you could call me a Taylor Swift fan.  I at least like her music for an old man.  This is a 2010 documentary film.  It shows Taylor Swift's rise in the music industry, the release of her first two albums, "Fearless" being the second, and the concert tour that resulted form that album.  It also includes video of most of the 13 songs from that album.
This is an interesting film, first because it shows you the determination of a girl to be a success in an industry which doesn't allow a lot of winners.  Swift was determined, but her dream was not accepted well at her school because she was different.  She and her family moved to Nashville to support her dream.  Swift wanted to record her own music, and was able to do that with Big Machine Records.  However her big break came with the release of "Fearless"  in 2008.  It includes the title song as well as "Love Story" and "You Belong With Me."
This movie goes into lots of detail about the concert which supported  the album.  This includes selection of the dancers, building of the set, rehearsals, p.r. and relations with fans.  Taylor Swift is very enthusiastic, and her enthusiasm is easily caught  by those around her.  We see her mother as well as her father.
An interesting part of the movie is Swift's song writing style.  She writes about her life experiences, a girl friend, freshman year of high school, boy relationships, bad and good (usually bad.)
I enjoyed this movie, but I like her music, at least the songs in this album.  I must admit, I have not followed her next two albums, but "Love Story" is as good as it gets.

Movie Review: ****War and Peace

This is the classic based on Leo Tolstoy novel and featuring Audrey Hepburn and Henry Fonda.  It is an essay of Russian Society during Napoleon's invasion of Moscow.  It makes a statement about the horrors of war.  It is also a love story, which is finally put right in the end.  Any movie with Audrey Hepburn is great.  This movie adds Henry Fonda, and the historical character, Napoleon.  Napoleon's attitude about war is classic,  but in the end he loses to the Russians not fighting him, and just sitting him out, until he decides to return to France with his men.  Then the Russians send him off with an action against his rearguard as they retreat.

Henry Fonda portrays Pierre, who at the beginning is a bitter young man, illegitimate son of a wealthy Muscovite.  His father finally acknowledges him just before he dies, and Pierre inherits his estate.  He is friends of the family of Audrey Hepburn, whose younger brother joins the war in the end, and is killed.  Another friend of Pierre, who is also in the military, falls in love with the character of Audrey Hepburn, but break of the engagement due to social standing issues.  He is wounded in action, and near death.  Nursing him back to health, he and Audrey Hepburn over come the issues that kept them apart before.

TV Review: Classic Doctor Who:****The Carnival of Monsters

John Pertwee stars in this series as The Doctor.  He is the third Doctor and this is the tenth season.  He, and his companion, Jo Grant, (Katy Manning) find themselves in trouble when they and the TARDIS get caught by a Miniscope.  This is a device, previously outlawed, which catches things, entraps them, and makes them smaller.  This one is owned by a circus performer and his assistant.   In the machine is the carnival of monsters, which includes, They are visiting a planet with political intrigue, but after making their presentation are told their contraption is illegal as it harbors alien races, Tellurians (humans) on a ship from 1914, Ogra (related to Dalek's), Cybermen and Drasheks (a dinosaur type monster).  All these creatures are in a machine the size of a box, with no way of escaping.   Most of the residents don't realize they are captive, but the Doctor and his companion do, and they start trying to escape, which gums up the works.  They wander into the Drashek's territory, and get the Drasheks chasing them.
The circus performers are showing their machine off to a planet, where the ruling race is very worried about being effected by alien races.  When they see the show, it is declared illegal, and subject to be destroyed.  However the exterminator does not destroy it.  It is intended for organic matter only.  There are a couple men, who are willing to do anything to get ahead.  They want to sabotage the supreme ruler by creating a disaster.  They see that the circus performer are having some problem, with things getting out of their space, and in fact, the Drasheks, which eat anything including metal, are getting out.  These two help them, while sabotaging the exterminator.  When they get out what will happen?
This series was very entertaining.  I enjoyed the story, and the adventure.  The monsters were corny, and the men of the planet had bald spots, with lines showing in their bald wigs. But that is part of Doctor Who.

Book Review: Little Wizard Stories of Oz

Little Wizard Stories of Oz:

This is a small book of short stories which adds depth to the Oz characters. 
After first being published individual in pamphlet form in 1913, these stories were combined into a book in 1914 with illustrations by John R. Neill.  The six stories are:
"The Cowardly Lion and the Hungry Tiger"
"Little Dorothy and Toto"
"Tiktok and the Nome King"
"Ozma and the Little Wizard"
"Jack Pumpkinhead and the Sawhorse"
"The Scarecrow and the Tin Woodman"
In the first story, the Lion and the Tiger talk of their deep hidden desires, and wild natures.  The tiger says he would love to eat a fat baby, and the Lion to tear a person apart.  However when the opportunity arises, their true characters shine through.  The tiger, instead of eating the baby, resucues him and restores him to his mother.  The Lion, instead of tearing the mother apart, comforts her, and explains he could never hurt one who has been so scared.

Dorothy and Toto like to travel an explore Oz.  This causes the Wizard some stress for their safety.  One day when Dorothy is exploring, she is captures by the Crinklink.  He makes her do the dishes, and threatens to turn her into a button or something.  Toto, who is with Dorothy, finally has had enough, and takes after the Crinklink.  It is then we learn that Crinklink is really the Wizard transformed and we see the Wizards intent of teaching Dorothy a lesson. 

“In Tiktok and the Nome King,” Tiktok has traveled to the Nome country to ask the king for replacement parts.  However in being disturbed, the Nome King throws his mace at Tiktok, and breaks him all up.  He then begins to first feel he may be caught, and says to place him in the junk heap.  The King broods for several days about what he has done.  In the mean time his servant takes the parts, and puts Tiktok back together.  He makes new parts when they are needed, and he turns out better than before.   When Tiktok confronts him, he thinks it is a phantasm come to haunt him.  However the error is finally resolved, and the King sends Tiktok back to Oz with baskets of jewels, so Ozma doesn’t get angry about the way he treated Tiktok, and he resolves to control his anger unless someone annoys him.

In the adventure of “Ozma and the Little Wizard” Ozma and the wizard confront three Imps, who are actually very clever, but also very naughty.  They have for some time been harassing the people, and when asked to stop say they will not.  The wizard uses magic on them, first turning them into bushes.  But the bushes were able to move, and the attacked the Wizard and Ozma with their thorns.  The Wizard turns them to pigs next.  The pigs, after regrouping again attack our pair, tripping them.  The Wizard fell into a river.  He then tries doves, but the doves fly at them, trying to peck their eyes.  He finally turns them into buttons.  These buttons are tin, brass and lead.  The Wizard knows when they reform as the buttons turn to silver, gold and aluminum.

In the story “Jack Pumpkinhead and the Sawhorse” Ozma has seen two lost children in her magic mirror.  She sends Jack and the Sawhorse to rescue them.  Jack finds the children, tied to a tree by the people squirrels.  The Squirrel King, is upset as they were stealing their nuts to have something to eat so they wouldn’t starve.  When confronted by the king, Jack ignores him, and unties the knots with his fingers.  However there is a conflict with the squirrels, and in this jack’s head is squished by a limb.  He now cannot see or talk.  The Sawhorse is smart enough to tell the children to pick him up and that they should all mount.  The Sawhorse is very fast, and gets them all to safety.  Ozma has been watching events unfold, and sends the Wizard mounted on the Lion to the rescue.  The wizard is able to find jack a new pumpkinhead, and he is restored.

Finally we have “The Sacrecrow and the Tin Woodman.”  They are best of friends.  One day they decide to take a trip down the river the Scarecrow’s boat, which is shaped like an ear of corn.  They are deep in conversation, and not watching where they are going.  Suddenly the scarecrow sees a rock in the say and cries out, but too late.  In the collision the Tinman is knocked out of the boat, and finds himself at the bottom of the river.  The Scarecrow attempts to swim to him, but finds he is too light.  In this effort, one of the scarecrow’s painted on eyes become smeared and wipes off.  He becomes blind in that eye, but has his other eye.  The crows start to mock him, but they become part of the solutions.  By getting a rope around the Tinman, and himself as a counter weight, the crows pull the Tinman, and the Scarecrow into the air.  They decide to play a joke, and dumb our friends, and dump them in the top of a tree, one on each side so they counterbalance each other.  The Scarecrow is the same weight as he is holding the anchor from the boat.  However he forgets, letting go of the anchor, and they both fall to the ground.  The Wizard, riding the Sawhorse, has been sent to their rescue, and is able to but everything right.  The story ends with them back in the boat with the Wizard as and Sawhorse as guests.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Music Review: Documentary: ***Simon and Garfunkel: The Harmony Game

A 2011 documentary of Simon and Garfunkel was on a Dish channel and it looked interesting so I recorded it.  There were a couple of things about this show that were very intriguing. It mentioned and told the story of a 1969 show put together by Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel as they reacted to the political climate of the late 60s.  I found this on You Tube and made a blog:
The other thing this documentary tells is the story behind several of their songs. This includes "Bridge Over Troubled Water."  This song, as most of their songs, was written by Paul Simon.  He felt it was perfect for Art Garfunkel.  Up until this their songs were duets, with harmony.  This song was sung before 1970, but the album and single came out in 1970 and it was voted best song of the decade.
For more Simon and Garfunkel set out these posts:
This movie also has some interesting dialogue with the artists, as well as the producers about the use of echo and harmony.  This is a nice presentation.  My only complaint is I would have loved less talking and more music.  

Book Review: The Emerald City of Oz

This is the sixth of fourteen Frank L. Baum Oz books.  It is evident that Baum had intended this to be the last.  Baum has nice things to say about Dorothy.  "In this world in which we live simplicity and kindness are the only magic wands that work wonders, and in the Land of Oz Dorothy found these same qualities had won for her the and admiration of the people."  He also says good things about The Wizard. “When we try to deceive people we always make mistakes,” he said.  “But I’m getting to be a real wizard now, and Glinda the Good’s magic, that I am trying to practice, can never harm any one.”  “You were always a good man,” declared Dorothy, “even when you were a bad wizard.”
This book tells two stories, Dorothy, taking her aunt and uncle to tour the land of Oz; while the evil king of the Nomes, Roquat, plots the overthrow of the Land of Oz and The Emerald City.  We meet many delightful characters.  I think my favorite was Utensia, were eating utensils have come to life.  This section is a pun every paragraph.  Here are a few.  Utensia:  We have had dull times since the steel and grindstone eloped.  Colander high priest, he’s the holiest thing we have in the kingdom.  “I’d like to smooth this thing over in some way”, said the flat iron.
During Dorothy's travels we also meet the Rigamaroles: "Then they began talking to one another in long, deliberate speeches, where many words were used but little was said.  Some of the college lecturers and ministers are certainly related to these people."  Baum is not very flattering of them, but certainly met a few in his life. 
Like wise the Flutterbudgets: “Do ‘ifs’ really make Flutterbudgets?”  “I think the ‘ifs’ help,” he answered seriously.  “Foolish fears, and worries over nothing, with a mixture of nerves and ifs, will soon make a Flutterbudger of anyone.”  Both of these lands they left as quickly as possible to preserve their own attitudes.  How ever the also met a paper doll kingdom, a kingdom where everything, including the people was some type of bun, a kingdom of rabbits, and the fuddles, who were jig saw puzzles, and thus entertained others.
On the other hand, the Nome General Guph meets some of the evil characters.  The Whimsies, people with little heads who wore big masks:  "They foolishly imagined that no one would suspect the little heads that were inside the imitation ones, not knowing that it is folly to try to appear otherwise than as nature has made us."  The
Growleywogs who were strong.  "It seems unfortunate that strong people are usually disagreeable and overbearing that no one cares for them.  In fact, to be different from you fellow creatures is always a misfortune.  And lastly the Phanfasms, who are people who make others see things as they want them to see, rather than as they are.
Ozma decides not to oppose these enemies, thinking it is wrong to hurt others.  Everyone is feeling doomed, when the Scarecrow offers some advice.  “I believe it is wrong to worry over anything before it happens.”  The Tin Woodman also has some good advice:  “My tin brains are very bright, but that is all I claim for them,” said Nick Chopper, modestly.  “Yet I do not aspire to being very wise, for I have noticed that the happiest people are those who do not let their brains oppress them.”
This book has a funny twist, which comes as a result of the Scarecrow's excellent brains.  This is one of my favorite Oz book as it brings the good vs evil conflict into the plot.

Movie Review: ****^The Avengers

The Avengers in 3-D is a fun movie.  I had seen Iron Man I and II, Thor, The Incredible Hulk, Captain America.  This show adds the Black Widow and Hawkeye as well as the organizer, manipulator Nick Fury.  All of these stories come together with the brother of Thor, adopted, coming to earth with the hopes of conquest, and making people bow to him.  Of course Thor comes to stop him.  The brother has a source of mind control and takes over the mind of one of Avengers, Hawkeye, who shots arrows.

The theme of the show is you are more together than just a sum of the parts.  Each of these super heroes has a big ego, and it takes a lot for them to com together.  Bickering and fighting, they finally join together to save the world from an alien invasion.  The robot monsters are cool, especially the worm like space ships.  But cooler are the skills of the Avengers, and the Hulk tackling one of those worms is too much.  This movie was a good ride and kept me on the edge of my seat.  It was almost too much action non stop at one point, but that is just me.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Movie Reviews: ***^Iron Man and ****Iron Man II

Both of these movies star Robert Downey Jr. as Iron Man.  The first is in our home library, and the second on instant Netflix.

These movies turn my on deep down.  There is just something about Iron Man when he has his mask on, and when he lands after turning off his rockets, with that big thud, that is just cool.  Actually Tony turned me on to this story, and now that I have watched these movies, I am ready to see The Avengers.  The second video does a better job of introducing some of the Avenger characters.

I prefer the second movie, because the bad guy is so much more bad.  Jeff Bridges portrays the bad guy in the first movie,  being Tony Stark's business partner, but also trying to kill him.  He is able to compromise Tony's design, and make his own suit, but it doesn't work out for him in the end, as he doesn't have the experience.

On the other hand, Mickey Rourke  portrays the son of the original designer of the small reactor, who is seeking revenge for his father.  He makes his own suit with powers, and is a worthy opponent.  But he is defeated early, Stark's business competitor rescues him, and gives space for him to work his revenge.  He turns on the business partner, and takes control of the robots he made, which wreak havoc attempting to kill Iron Man.  Gwyneth Paltrow is great as the love interest, and Scarlett Johanssen as the lady from the Avengers.  Fun ride.

Movie Review: ****Robin Hood (2010)

This Robin Hood was not what I was expecting.  I am use to the story of Robin Hood stealing from the rich to feed the poor.  Instead this movie is a prequel to these events.  It shows Robin Hood coming to the defense of King John, and because he was liked of the people, he was declared outlaw.
This movie is very entertaining.  There are plenty of sparks between Robin (Russell Crowe) and maid Marion (Cate Blanchett) even though they are only pretending to be husband and wife, rather than actually being so.  So in this version, Robin Hood is Robin Longstride, whose father was executed for seeking freedom.  This movie is then a political movie, and the search for freedom.
Godfrey (Mark Strong) gives us the evil we need in this movie. He gains King John's confidence, but in reality is scheming with King Phillip of France to create unrest and weaken King John's support in England.  This almost works, but England is united when people realize what is going on.
This movie has a good battle scene, and it ends with King John's betrayal setting up sequels if they choose. 

Book Review: Pride and Prejudice

Just finished reading Pride and Prejudice again.  This is a book that fascinates and entertains me.  From the opening paragraph, "It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife, " I was hooked.
Of course I have read the book before, and watched the movie countless times.  I find great enjoyment in the words, and the style of the words, and in the story.  The slow budding love between Darcy and Liza is classic.  “I am afraid, Mr. Darcy,” observed Miss Bingley in a half whisper, “that this adventure has rather affected your admiration of her fine eyes.”  “Not at all,” he replied; “they were brightened by the exercise.”
Liza's father, although sometimes brash in what he says, has a way of teasing his wife, and enjoying life at the same time.   “An unhappy alternative is before you, Elizabeth.  From this day you must be a stranger to one of your parents.  Your mother will never see you again if you do not marry Mr. Collins, and I will never see you again if you do.”
And his pleasure after his two oldest daughters are engaged is high lighted in this line. “If any young men come for Mary or Kitty, send them in, for I am quite at leisure.”
Elizabeth teasing and chastises Mr. Darcy at the same time about his awkward social nature. “My fingers,” said Elizabeth, “do not move over this instrument in the masterly manner which I see so many women’s do.  They have not the same force or rapidity, and do not produce the same expression.  But then I have always supposed it to be my own fault—because I will not take the trouble of practicing.  It is not that I do not believe my fingers as capable as any other woman’s of superior execution.”
Darcy's confession of love catches everyone off guard, especially Elizabeth Bennet.  “In vain I have struggled.  It will not do.  My feeling will not be repressed.  You must allow me to tell you how ardently I admire and love you.”
  Mr. Collins proclamation seems to be his feelings, maybe not Charlotte's.  “My dear Charlotte and I have but one mind and one way of thinking.  There is in everything a most remarkable resemblance of character and ideas between us.  We seem to have been designed for each other.”
After Elizabeth being to see things in a truer light, and comparing Mr. Darcy and Mr. Wickham she says to Jane, “This will not do,” said Elizabeth; “you never will be able to make both of them good for anything.  Take your choice, but you must be satisfied with only one.  There is but such a quantity of merit between them; just enough to make one good sort of man; and of late it has been shifting about pretty much.  For my part, I am inclined to believe it all Darcy’s; but you shall do as you choose.”
That Mr. Bingley would quit the neighborhood, without marrying her daughter puzzles Mrs. Bennet.  “Well, Lizzy,” said Mrs. Bennet one day, “what is your opinion now of this sad business of Jane’s?  For my part, I am determined never to speak of it again to anybody," even though she does and it is always on her mind. 
A good love story has to have its twists, and this book has more than its share, which leads to good entertainment.  I like the method of language, and the society, with its restrictions is intriguing. 

Mormon Movie Review: ****^ The Other Side of Heaven

The Other Side of heaven is one of the better LDS films.  It tells the story of John Groberg (Christopher Gorman) and is based on his book of the same name.  He was called on a mission to Tonga from Idaho.  His mission was more dangerous, and longer than most.  This movie has very good cinematography as we see the power of the waves and the ocean, and of the storms.  Many things happened to Elder Groberg.  His first struggle was to learn the language, and until he did he made many mistakes saying silly things.  His feet were eaten by rates, from which we learn you must always keep your feet covered, he help to heal a boy who had fallen out of a tree, but could not heal another young man who had lock jaw.   Success was slow at first, but he grew on the people, and they began to have tremendous success.  He first had a companion (Joe Folau), and the interacted well, as the companion was Tongan.  The pass through a hurricane as an island, and almost everyone perishes of hunger as all the food is destroyed, including the fisheries.  A boat arrives with supplies just in time.  A priest, gave El Groberg a bottle of jam, saving Elder Groberg’s live, but sacrificing his own as the priest is one who does not make it.  After they started to have success, Elder Groberg’s companion is called back to construction.  One of the most touching scenes is “Hoorah for Israel” as he is heading off the island in a small boat.  In this the reenacted the apostles of old who stood in the wagon and shouted hoorah as they were sick, but heeding the call to serve missions. 
Elder Groberg is left with local leadership as companions.  He travels between islands.  In one there is no wind to sail the boat, and they are becalmed.  One of the companions jumps into the ocean, to pull the boat.  “Today I am the Lord’s wind.”  In another scene, they are capsized by a large wave.  However he is saved.
Another moving scene is the visit by the mission president, who has been worrying nothing has been going on.  When Elder Groberg reports the success, including a new branch with a chapel, the mission president asks to see the records.  Elder Groberg stays up all night to create the records, and the mission president apologizes about his harshness. 
Though out the movie are interspersed scenes of his girlfriend, (Anne Hathaway) through interaction, and letters.  The movie concludes with their marriage.  This is a very fun and inspiring movie.  Great cinematography of the ocean and islands.