Saturday, May 31, 2014

Disney Movie Review: ****^Mulan

Mulan is a delightful movie.  It tells the story, based on an old Chinese ballad, of a young woman (Ming-Na), though she lacks confidence as a potential bride, takes her father's place when each family is asked to send someone to the war.  The Huns have attacked and every family must supply a soldier.  Mulan has not brothers, so her sickly father is ready to go, until Mulan takes his horse and goes for him.  To impersonate a man, and join the army is against the law in China at the time, punishable by death.  A dragon (Eddie Murphie) is sent to save the family honor. They should not have tried showing Mulan spitting, the saliva hanging from her mouth almost did me in.  There is also a scene bathing in the pond and the guys come to skinny dip.  As they take her for a guy, they are not very modest.  (This is not shown but implied.)  Mulan's reaction, "I never want to see a naked man again in my life."  The Captain (BD Wong), decides to sent Mulan home as being not fit for the army; but accomplishes a feet none of the others could do, and so becomes a part of the new recruits.
They head to the front to join the experienced soldiers, and discover they have all been destroyed.  Their army is the only army to defend China and the emperor from the Huns.  Mulan saves the day using cunning; but in doing so is injured, and her female status is revealed.  She saved the Captain who spares her life. But now she must save China and the emperor (Pay Morita) from the Huns who survived.
Donny Osmond and Lea Salonga sing the songs for the lead characters.
Donny Osmond "I'll Make a Man Out of You"
Lea Salonga singing the longer version of "Reflections"

Movie Review: ****Iron Man 3

This is the continuing sage of Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.), and his suits.  However his love, Pepper (Gwyneth Paltrow) also plays a much greater part.  Iron make takes on a terrorist who calls himself, "The Mandarin" and has been responsible for explosions around the world, explosions without bomb casings.  Turns out the evil comes from a fellow scientist Iron Man slighted some years previous.  He has developed away to regenerate limbs, but the side effects are explosions; and the recipient has an ability to generate heat.  One of Iron Man's Friends is accidentally infected with this, and is in a coma after he exploded.  Iron Man, in his anger, gives himself as a target, giving his home address.  They visit and blow his residence up, sending Iron Man into escape mode with a damaged suit.  He is helped by a boy, who sees him as Iron Man.  Back on his feet, but without his recovering suit, he tracks the evidence around these strange explosions, which lead him to The Mandarin's (Ben Kingsley) lair, who is not the lead but an actor, the scientist, Aldrich Killian (Guy Pearce) is the bad guy, and has this power to burn people with his limbs.  Iron Man is caught.  His suit is still repairing itself.
They use this power to wrest the suit from Colonel James Rhodes (Don Cheadle) and use the suit to kidnap the president.  Pepper has also been kidnapped by our villain, and he is converting her into a fire woman.  This process may kill her.  We have a situation where the Iron Man is captured, but needing to save his girlfriend, and the president.  When his suit comes back on line it is no problem.  And we discover that the suit has over a hundred different suits it can call to its assistance.  However, mad scientist fire men are hard to kill.  However girlfriends who have been changed into fire women are hard to kill too.
This movie has plenty of action.  The ending is a bit confusing, and leaves them in a spot where you wonder if there will be any more Iron Man movies.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Mormon Movie Review: ****Johnny Lingo (LDS Church 1969)

This is one of my favorites.  At home, Mahana is basically a servant, or worse than a servant.  We don't see Mahana's mother, but her father calls her, "Mahana, you ugly."  And that is who she is in her father's house, Mahana the ugly, who hugs the shadows of the hut.  However Johnny Lingo pays eight cows for her.  In the community a man can get a good wife for two or three cows, and excellent one for four or five, and never has there been an eight cow wife.  The local merchant assumes Johnny Lingo is just proud.  However he visits the home after they have been away for a year, and finds Mahana to be beautiful.  These are quotes from that meeting as Johhny Lingo explains the change.
Johnny Lingo: Think what it must mean to a woman, her future husband meeting with her father to discuss the lowest price for which she can be bought. And later, when the women of the village gather, they boast of what their husbands paid for them - three cows, or five. How does she feel, the woman who was sold for one, or two? This could not happen to my Mahana.
Trader Harris: Johnny, I've misjudged you. I thought you were thinking only of how important you would look to your friends, paying 8 cows for a wife. I didn't know you wanted to make Mahana happy.
Johnny Lingo: More than happy, Mr. Harris. I wanted her to be an eight-cow woman.
Trader Harris: I see. In her father's hut, Mahana believed she was worth nothing.
Johnny Lingo: Yes, and now she knows she is worth more than any other woman on the island.
 This is a lesson in self-worth, but also in how are actions are reflected in others.

The message is right on.  My only complaints have to do with the music and the acting.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Music Review: The Very Best of Peter Paul and Mary

The Very Best of Peter Paul and Mary is an anthology album which includes much of the finer work.  These are my favorite:
04. If I Had a Hammer
05. Where Have All the Flowers Gone
I sang this song in Jr. High choir.  It is one of my favorite.  I remember the words a bit different.
06. Puff the Magic Dragon
08. This Land Is Your Land
09. Blowin' in the Wind
This is another of those songs we sang in Junior High, and then again in high school, a real choir version with parts.
14. The Times They Are A Changin'
A Bob Dylan song
16. Leaving on a Jet Plane
A John Denver song.
21. Wedding Song (There is Love)
this is one of my favorite.
He is now to be among you at the calling of your hearts
Rest assured this troubadour is acting on His part.
The union of your spirits, here, has caused Him to remain
For whenever two or more of you are gathered in His name
There is Love. There is Love.

Well, a man shall leave his mother and a woman leave her home
They shall travel on to where the two should be as one.
As it was in the beginning is now until the end
Woman draws a life from man and gives it back again.
And there is Love. There is Love.

Well, then what's to be the reason for becoming man and wife?
Is it Love that brings you here or Love that brings you life?
Or if loving is the answer, then who's the giving for?
Do you believe in something that you've never seen before?
Oh there's Love, oh there's Love.

Oh the marriage of your spirits here has caused Him to remain
For whenever two or more of you are gathered in His name
There is Love. Ah there's Love.
24. And When I Die
25. Weave Me the Sunshine  This one has a cool melody and rythym.
My only disappointment in preparing this I looked up Peter Paul and Mary.  Peter and Paul, Mary has passed away, asked the National Organization of Marriage to not play one of their songs at their rallies as their organization did not have the same as their activist values.  I was disappointed because I enjoy Peter Paul and Mary, and wonder why they would ask this.

Book Review: Deeper

Deeper, Roderick Gordon and Brian Williams, Chicken House, Scholastic, New York, 2009.
This is the second book in this series, following the first book Tunnels.  This book continues with the conflict between the Styx, and our hero Will.  In the first book, Will traveled underground looking for his father, who had tunneled into a civilization under the ground.  Now Will has the evil Styx, who rule the underground in a Naziistic fashion.  In the first book, Will, his friend Chester and his brother Cal.  They are no matches for the dangers of the deep, and if not for being rescued by two renegades, Drake and Elliott.  Elliott is a young woman, who has been with Drake for some time and although about Will and Chester’s age, is an accomplished member of the team and very good at stealth and being quiet. 
Will does not meet his father, but he is around and doing archeological investigations, but falls down a big hole called the Pore. 
Drake is assumed captured by the Styx, and finished off by Will and Elliott to avoid his being tortured.  However, they have come across a plot by the Styx to release a deadly disease topside, and the surface.  They have already had a successful release of a disease not so deadly (although some people died). 
The Styx have also recruited Will and Cal’s mother Sarah, to track and kill Will, who they have convinced her killed her brother, Tam.  This is not true, but Tam was killed trying to protect them. 
Rebecca, the step sister of Will topside turns out to be the face of evil of the Styx.  She is wanting to kill anyone associated with Will, and does a pretty good job of it. 
The Styx track and chase Will and company all over the underground.  Elliott is also pretty good at setting off large explosions in the hopes of buying time as they look for a safe place in the underworld.  However Sarah, with Cal’s cat (large and known as a hunter) tracks the trail of Elliott and the boys.  However, Elliott, thinking she is a Styx, shots her.  They boys realize who she is, but they are unable to take her with them as theirs is the need for speed.  They leave her for dead.
The Styx slowly drive Elliott and the boys into a trap, which when sprung gives the boys no way of escape, except perhaps down the Pore.  Can their mother save them before she dies?  Can Drake help them escape?
This book is very enjoyable, and has plenty of tension and excitement.  However, it is a bit claustrophobic in those tunnels some of the time.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Movie Review: ****^Moms' Night Out (2014)

This movie is a comedic good time.  I found myself laughing out loud several times.  As did our entire group including Tony.  Although Tony admitted after he laughed because everyone else was laughing.  There were some really good scenes with the kids, which if you didn't laugh would make you cry.
Sarah Drew portrays Allyson, the mother of three, who is overwhelmed with motherhood and organized a Moms' night with her friend, Izzy (Logan White) and the pastor's wife, Sondra (Patricia Heaton).  She leaves her husband (Sean Astin) and his friend who has never grown up (Kevin Downes).  This night is not one which ends up happy.  Everything you can think of goes wrong, and a few things I could never think of.  However for the plot, after their reservations at the restaurant don't work, they go bowling, but not until Allyson has locked all cell phones in the van.  At the bowling alley, where Allyson's sister-in-law (Abby Cobb) has a new job, they discover they don't know who is watching sister-in-law's baby.  This leads them on a wild goose chase, in a taxi as husband needed the van to take the kids out and himself to the hospital, which they don't know as their phones are in the van.  They report the van stolen.
They recruit the taxi driver (David Hunt) and a tatooist, motor cycle rider, Bones (Trace Adkins).  Turns out things keep getting worse, and they all end in the slammer.  Still no baby, and not much hope of finding the baby.
This is a wild ride.  When it is at the lowest point for Allyson, it is the biker who reminds her that God loves her, and she is where she is suppose to be.  Sometimes, wisdom comes from the most unsuspecting place.  And you never no when someone is on his way to rescue you.
Great movie and great ride.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Music Review: Don McLean Classics (1992)

Beyond American Pie, Vincent and I love you so, this album is pretty thin.  But between two versions of American Pie, at almost 9 minutes each, you pretty much don't need much else.  McLean seems to like to sing about death. The deaths of Ritchie Valens and Buddie Hollie are remembered in Amercan Pie "The day the music died" and in Vincent, or "Starry starry night," he pays tribute to Van Vogh who committed suicide.  It is just beautiful to listen to.
Starry, starry night
Paint your palette blue and gray
Look out on a summer's day
With eyes that know the darkness in my soul

Shadows on the hills
Sketch the trees and the daffodils
Catch the breeze and the winter chills
In colors on the snowy linen land

Now I understand
What you tried to say to me
And how you suffered for your sanity
And how you tried to set them free

They would not listen, they did not know how
Perhaps they'll listen now

Starry, starry night
Flaming flowers that brightly blaze
Swirling clouds in violet haze
Reflect in Vincent's eyes of china blue

Colors changing hue
Morning fields of amber grain
Weathered faces lined in pain
Are soothed beneath the artist's loving hand

Now I understand
What you tried to say to me
And how you suffered for your sanity
And how you tried to set them free

They would not listen, they did not know how
Perhaps they'll listen now

For they could not love you
But still your love was true
And when no hope was left in sight
On that starry, starry night

You took your life, as lovers often do
But I could've told you Vincent
This world was never meant for
One as beautiful as you

Starry, starry night
Portraits hung in empty halls
Frame-less heads on nameless walls
With eyes that watch the world and can't forget

Like the strangers that you've met
The ragged men in ragged clothes
The silver thorn of bloody rose
Lie crushed and broken on the virgin snow

Now I think I know
What you tried to say to me
And how you suffered for your sanity
And how you tried to set them free

They would not listen, they're not listening still
Perhaps they never will

Music Review: John Denver: Timeless Songs 1

I have been listening to some pleasant tones from John Denver while I go about doing some other chores, like organizing all these pictures from my mom and dad.  This is available on You Tube:
All of John Denver's song carry his dulcid voice.  However, some songs the lyrics hit home better than others.  A recurring theme is the simpleness of life in the country compared to the bustle of city life:
"Fly Away"

All of her days have gone soft and cloudy, all of her dreams have gone dry.
All of her nights have gone sad and shady, She's getting ready to fly.
Fly away, fly away, fly away.

Life in the city can make you crazy for sounds of the sand and the sea.
Life in a high-rise can make you hungry for things that you can't even see.
Fly away, fly away, fly away.

Rocky Mountain High
He was born in the summer of his 27th year
Coming home to a place he'd never been before
He left yesterday behind him, you might say he was born again
You might say he found a key for every door

When he first came to the mountains his life was far away
On the road and hanging by a song
But the string's already broken and he doesn't really care
It keeps changing fast and it don't last for long

But the Colorado rocky mountain high
I've seen it rainin' fire in the sky
The shadow from the starlight is softer than a lullabye
Rocky mountain high (Colorado)

Denver also sings about love in a very simple and direct way:
Sunshine on My Shoulders
Make me happy
Sunshine in my eyes can make me cry
Sunshine on the water, looks so lovely.
Sunshine almost always makes me high
If I had a day, that I could give you
Id give to you, a day just like today
If I had a song, that I could sing for you.
I sing a song, to make you feel this way

Close your eyes, rest your weary mind
I promise, I will stay right here beside You
Today our Lives were joined, became entwined
I wish you could know how much I love You.

John Denver is a classic, who fortunately is preserved for us in his work.  However he left us much too early.

Movie Review: ***^Despicable Me II (2013)

Gru (Steve Carell) finds love in the sequel to Despicable Me.  Gru has settled into homelife.  He and his minions are caring for a family, putting on clown acts and such duties.  However Lucy (Kristin Wiig) has other plans.  Lucy is a secret agent, and Gru joins her in finding an evil villain who has been terrorizing the world.  Gru has an inkling who the villain might be, but is drawn off the trail and left to himself.  His suspicions are confirmed, but things are worse than even he feared.  A new gone has been devised which his converting his cute little minions into terrible monsters.  Things look pretty glum.
I found this presentation enjoyable, and tells us we are all entitled to love.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Movie Review: ***Thor: The Dark World (2013)

This is the second movie based on the character Thor (Chris Hemsworth) not included "The Avengers."  This movie is two years after the original Thor.  Thor has not been back to see his love interest, Jane Foster (Natalie Portman).  She has been sad.  However, when she sees what appears to be a break through in astro-physics, some strange phenomenon, she decides to investigate.  She gets pulled into some kind of a vortex, and in doing so a strange power of the dark elves enters her.  She also makes it to Aasgard, where she is considered an enemy because she possesses this weapon.
The dark elves feel she has stolen their power, and are determined to capture her.  They attack Aasgard, which is almost successful except for the queen, who sacrifices herself to save Foster.  Loki (Tom Hiddleston), Thor's adopted brother, provided key information to the attackers.
However it is Loki who holds the key to success when Thor, Foster and Loki go to confront the dark elves.  Loki appears to have sacrificed himself for Thor's benefit.  The fight ends up on earth, because of the alignment of the planets.  Foster and her astro-physics friends find a way to send the dark elves back to where they came from.  Thor has a big battle with the lead elf.
This movie is not my favorite in the Avenger series.  The astro-physics stuff is over my head.  The filming of battle scenes in the dark world were too dark to know what was happening.  In the end, most of it was a convoluted mess.  Even thought Tony likes most of the Avengers, he was not interested in Thor saying he doesn't like Thor.  After watching I can understand why.  However the first we saw at the theater, and it was more enjoyable.

TV Review: Twilight Zone: One for the Angels (1959)

I decided to review each episode of Twilight zone, because except for the narrator (Rod Sterling), each episode has a different cast, and each episode also tells a unique story. 
This is the second episode of the first season.  Lou Bookman (Ed Wynn) has an appointment with Death (Murray Hamilton).  However, as many of us might want to do, he actually does.  He bargains with death, and gets an extension on his life.  He has unfinished business.  This business is to make the big sale, "One for the Angels.  He is a pitchman.  He sells items from a suitcase on the street.  But when he negotiates this with Death, he decides never to sell again. 
But death will not be denied.  So instead he sets his eyes on a child, a particular favorite of our pitchman.  The child is hit by a car, and in danger of dying.  She has an appointment now with death at midnight, taking Lou's place.
Lou sees his folly; but Death has already set his sights on someone else.  The only way the pitchman can save her, is by offering himself, but to do so he must make a sale for the ages.
Ed Wynn does an excellent job in this presentation.  He is laughing on the ceiling in "Mary Poppins" and is an actor I always enjoy.

Friday, May 23, 2014

Movie Review: ***Beethoven (1992)

A dog adopts a family where the father hates dogs.  In this case the dog is a Saint Bernard, which takes lots of care, and slobbers all over everything.  He chews shoes, makes messes and is generally obnoxious. The antics of Beethoven also are helpful and life saving to the family in their own way.  He saves the son from the bullies, helps the daughter meet the guy she likes, saves the youngest daughter when she falls into the pool.
But in this movie there is a sinister plot going on.  The local veterinarian is in charge of a ring of dog snatchers.  They use the animals for experiments.  They need a large dog to test a new type of bullet.  When he tricks the family into giving up the dog, after convincing the father that it is a dog prone to violence, they are on their way to save Beethoven from the dog nappers, and leads into a much bigger rescue than this.
This movie created six sequels.  But the original is the best.  The parents are portrayed by Charles Grodin and Bonnie Hunt.  The mean vet by Dean Jones.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Movie Review: **^Silver Linings Playbook (2012)

This is not a family movie.  However, it does who people with mental illness, and their relationships with their families, friends and community.  This includes interactions with police.  In many instances there is stigma from family and friends, "I hear you just got out of the nut house" kind of stuff, which in is subtle way puts others down.  There is even stigma between those with mental illness, "So my illness is worse than yours." kind of stuff.  It is interesting how we react to people with mental health issues, and whether or not we can be safe around them.
The story is intriguing.  I love triangle, with part of the triangle out side of the picture and protected by restraining order.  However, she is the focus of the attentions of our primary character, Pat (Bradley Cooper).  He meets another girl, Tiffany (Jennifer Lawrence) who challenges him to dance with her in a competition.  Robert De Niro plays Pat's father, who has many superstitions about sports, and spending the right amount of time with his son so as to create good luck.  When his father loses a bet on the Eagles, Tiffany manipulates the holder of the bet to make a double bet, including on on the dance performance.  The have to score a 5, not a winning mark, but a mark higher than expected.  This creates a funny scene with the dancing, and a great cheer for a mediocre mark.  This movie gives important social information with regards to living with mental illness.  People with mental illness deserve to find a silver lining.  Too much bad language to recommend this movie however.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Music Review: Andrea Bocelli: Concerto: One Night in Central Park

This C.D. did not touch my cup of tea.  It was too operatic in nature for my taste.  I guess I should have expected that, but some how it caught me off guard.  A couple of his songs are very nice.  This includes "Amazing Grace" and "The Prayer."  "The Prayer" he sings with Celine Dion.  He also does a version of Nessum Dorma, which my niece's son recently did an is on Facebook.

Movie Review: ***Freaky Friday (2003)

This is a Disney remake, with a modern spin, of an original Disney movie.  While the original had Jodie Foster, this version starred Lindsay Lohan.  This version also has Jamie Lee Curtis as the mother, and Mark Harmon as her fiance.
There are some very cute scenes in this movie.  The theme as that we do not always see each other for what they are going through, because we see through our own eyes.
Anna and her mother don't see eye to eye.  They get in a big argument at a Chinese restaurant.  The mother of the owner sees the arguing, and intervenes with magical fortune cookies.  These cookies cause them to change personalities, a sort of switch of yourself into the other's body.  This cause some fun situations, including a crush going for your mom, which is you in your mom's body, and other episodes at school.  The point is they have to grow, and see things from the other perspective, for the situation to go back to normal.
Tony really enjoyed this show, and I less so.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Music Review: Dolly Parton: Coat of Many Colors, 1971

The CD I brought home is the 2007 reissue.  It has a few extra songs not included in the original.  This is Dolly Parton at her best.  Dolly's voice has her own unique quality which is very pleasing to listen to.  I don't know how I would describe it, but I like it.  Coat of many Colors is a biographical song in which Dolly tells a story of her childhood years.  She tells about her poverty as a child, but she felt loved.  "One is only poor if they choose to be."  This is a special song:
"Coat Of Many Colors"

Back through the years
I go wonderin' once again
Back to the seasons of my youth
I recall a box of rags that someone gave us
And how my momma put the rags to use
There were rags of many colors
Every piece was small
And I didn't have a coat
And it was way down in the fog
Momma sewed the rags together
Sewin' every piece with love
She made my coat of many colors
That I was so proud of
As she sewed, she told a story
From the bible, she had read
About a coat of many colors
Joseph wore and then she said
Perhaps this coat will bring you
Good luck and happiness
And I just couldn't wait to wear it
And momma blessed it with a kiss

My coat of many colors
That my momma made for me
Made only from rags
But I wore it so proudly
Although we had no money
I was rich as I could be
In my coat of many colors
My momma made for me

So with patches on my britches
Holes in both my shoes
In my coat of many colors
I hurried off to school
Just to find the others laughing
And making fun of me
In my coat of many colors
My momma made for me

And oh I couldn't understand it
For I felt I was rich
And I told them of the love
My momma sewed in every stitch
And I told 'em all the story
Momma told me while she sewed
And how my coat of many colors
Was worth more than all their clothes

But they didn't understand it
And I tried to make them see
That one is only poor
Only if they choose to be
Now I know we had no money
But I was rich as I could be
In my coat of many colors
My momma made for me
Made just for me

Traveling Man is also an interesting song.  It tells of a girl who becomes enamored by the traveling salesman, and is going to run off with him, but her mother beats her to it.  It ends with the line, "Oh "there goes my mama with my traveling man
And I'm really gonna miss that traveling man"  Sort of funny.
In "Hear I Am" she just present herself, "I have so much love to give; I need someone to share it with."
In "A Better Place to Live" Parton gives her idea of a utopian society where people are willing to love and work together.
And if we'd love one another instead of finding faults
We could afford the price of peace, love is all it costs
Oh wouldn't it be great to live and sing in harmony
Everybody take your brother's hand and sing my song with me."

Movie Review: ***^ All Around the Town (tv movie 2002)

This is a really pretty good made for TV movie.  It is based on a book by Mary Higgins Clark.  It has as its story line the unraveling of a kidnapping.  Laurie (Kim Schraner) was kidnapped when she was four, and then found again when she was six.  The events around her parents dying, when she is a new college student, set in motion her defense mechanisms and a new chain of events.  A side-lite of these events, is a murder she is accused of.  Her defenses include several multiple personalities.  A psychologist (Michael Shanks) is helping her work through her past, in an effort to relief her of the personalities.  Memories of her past has caused her to loss her boyfriend.  Her older sister, Sarah (Andrea Roth) is supportive in helping her achieve closure.  Sarah is also an attorney and takes her sister's case.  Slowly the unravel the past, the murder and the kidnapping.
This book is interesting.  Tony could tell there was something wrong with the lead character.  However in this case, the kidnapping sexual molester was more creepy and more of a pervert. 
This movie was better than most of the tv movie fare.

Movie Review: ****Avatar

This movie is a beautiful film.  It is a retelling of the Native American story, but with a different result.  Bad industry wants to possess the natives land because of the resources, and are willing to take it destroying whatever is there and killing whoever they need to kill.  The wise scientist are against this, but are helpless against the evil powers of industry and military.  However this movie has a twist.  As the native Americans very rarely are able to fight together, in this movie, they are ale to rally all the other groups, and attack as one force.  Consequently there is a different result.  Even when the Native Americans could do this, there were more white people coming  In this movie they were abel to negotiate a peace, with the non native people leaving.
That aside, this is a good science fiction.  It has our Marine, Jake Sully (Sam Worthington) who has a spinal injury, and can't walk.  However, they make for him a new Avatar body for him, and while he is connected and asleep, he has a direct link to this body, which does not have any injury.  Other scientist do the same thing.  Grace (Sigourney Weaver) is the head scientist.  In this altered state, he falls for a native girl (Zoe Saldana) and enjoys the new life.  However he is caught between two worlds, that of a marine, and his new world.  (Much like "Dancing With Wolves.")  Things run their course, and the company becomes inpatient and tries to push the issues.  Colonel Quaritch (Stephen Lang) leads an attack.  The Avatar and their tree (which has special powers) is destroyed.  Sully is outcast.  However the scientist regroup, and stage a coup.  Sully helps the Avatar regroup, and gain reinforcements from other natives which leads to a big battle and showdown.
Avatar is the highest grossing movie of all time; both foreign and domestic.  The total take is 2.7 billion.  That is incredible.  It also had a very large budget.  I watched this with Tony for movie night, and we finished this morning.  Tony's comment "I love that movie."  I enjoyed it as well, but not as much as Tony.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Tony Book Review: The Summer Camp from the Black Lagoon

I read this book to Tony, and had the idea when I was done, "What does this have to do with a black lagoon?"  I then noticed this is book 24 in a series.  Maybe the first book talks about the black lagoon.  This book is a story of a boy facing something scary and then finding he likes it in the end.  Hubie (that is a silly name) doesn't want to go to summer camp, but he makes a friend on the bus and that makes things better.  One part I didn't like was the comment on bed wetting.  This book wanted to veer into potty humor too much.  And there was one picture with screwy eyes.  I thought I could do as well, and I am not an artist. 

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Music Review: PFR: Goldie's Last Days

This is an album by a Christian Rock group out of Nashville.  Some of the songs I like, and some not so much, usually based on how hard the song is.  The theme song for the album is about the death of a golden retriever, and admittedly I don't care for it.  I much prefer :That Kind of Love" which talks about the Savior. 
Tell me the story about the Man
Who came down from the sky
Who healed the broken hearted with His hand
And dried the tear-dimmed eye
Oh, I would give anything
To see Him face to face and
Oh He gave us everything
To make the world a better place

Oh, where does that kind of love come from
They say that it runs in His blood
Oh, where can I find that kind of love
They say that it runs in His blood

Tell me the story about the Man
Who came down from the sky
Who healed the broken hearted with His hand
And dried the tear-dimmed eye
Oh, I would give anything
To see Him face to face and
Oh He gave us everything
To make the world a better place

Oh, where does that kind of love come from
They say that it runs in His blood
Oh, where can I find that kind of love
They say that it runs in His blood 

I also really like "Shine" about letting your light shine. 

i will let my light shine
no more shadows
i will let my light shine
darkness run away
i will let my light shine
for a bright tomorrow
i will let my light shine

I also like "Wait for the Sun" which tells us because we have hope in the Son, the sun will always come out again.  For the most part this alb um was enjoyable, with a few exceptions.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

TV Review: ****Star Wars: Clone Wars: Season One

Just a week ago there was an announcement that only the Lucas generated Star Wars projects are part of the official history of Star Wars, not the other books and literature in the Star Wars genre.  However, Close Wars is included in the official Star Wars History, and there is a lot of history here.  In this war we have most of the traditional characters as portrayed in Star Wars episode III.  The most significant character added is Ahsoka Tano, who is Anakin Skywalkers Jedi trainee.  She does add much to the series.  There are many adventures, and this show would take place between episodes II and III of the movie series.  There is still hope for the republic, and much of the series shows the struggle of the Jedi assisted by the clones, into help and free planets which have been captured by the drones.  The drones have many sophisticated and often secret weapons which the incorporate into their attacks.
I have enjoyed watching all 22 episodes.  They are entertaining.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Book Review: The Graveyard Book (highly recommended)

The Graveyard Book Neil Gaiman, Harper Collins Publishers, New York, 2008.
This book fascinated me, from the opening line “There was a hand in the darkness, and it held a knife;” to the end, “But between now and then, there was Life; and Bod walked into it with his eyes and his heart wide open.”
In between we are introduced to a fantastic world of the graveyard, where people no longer age, but continue in spirit at the age they were when they died.  This graveyard is special, because the inhabitants show charity towards a baby who comes to them in need.  The people of the graveyard take the baby in, and nurture him, and care for him, and give them of their special graveyard powers, like fading, and haunting, and being able to walk through walls.  This story also has the intensity of a murder mystery, and murder adventure, and fantasy of the underworld, and all the dangers of the graveyard, and the danger outside of the graveyard.  This was a very fun read.  It was also a very quick book, and I recommend it highly. 

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Movie Review: ****^The Amazing Spider-Man 2

This is the continuation of the Spider-Man based on Marvel comics series.  Peter (Andrew Garfield) is torn about whether he should continue his relationship with Gwen (Emma Stone) after promising her father as he was dying that he would not endanger her life.  There are still bad people out there, and his rescuing causes him to almost miss his graduation. 
His friend from ten years ago, Harry Osborn (Dane DeHann) returns from being away, just before Mr. Osborn passes away, from a genetic disease his son also has.  He determines he needs Spider-Man's blood to heal himself, as it has a power from spiders which self heals.  In the meantime, Max (Jamie Foxx) has fallen into a vat of electric eels at Oscorp, and becomes Electro.  Peter also slowly unravels the mystery behind the disappearance of his parents.  His Aunt May (Sally Field) is able to give him some information.  And with a note he finds in his dad's briefcase, he discovers a secret lab.  However, Oscorp, unknowingly throws two monsters against themselves, and against Spider-man.  Electro, and the Green Goblin who is also Harry. 
I don't want to be a spoiler, but both Tony and I came home sad from this experience.  It did not end the way either of us thought it would.  Although Peter does make a decision about himself and Gwen.

Disney Animation Classics: Volume 4: The Tortoise and the Hare

This is another series of Disney animated shorts, showing Disney work.  In the "Tortoise and the Hare" (1939) Max Hare's problem was his own self pride, and his wanting to flatter the girls rather than focusing on the race.  The Toby Tortoise was the steady hero.
The next presentation, "Babes in the Wood" (1932) is a take off of Hansel and Gretel.  Except there are more babies involved, and their as wood elves who help the children.  The witch turns children into other things, but with the intervention of the elves they are able to set everything right. 
"The Goddess of Spring" (1934) explains why we have seasons instead of continual Spring.  The Spring Goddess was stolen by the devil for his bride in Haddes.  She was so sad, thee devil agreed she could go to the surface six month every year.  This movie again shows the wood elves. 
"Toby Tortoise Returns" (1936) for a boxing match with the hare.  Things again are going well for thee hare, until he tries fire works to get the tortoise out of his shell.  The back fire, and the hare is left in the ambulance by a rocket.
"Paul Bunyan" (1958) is based on an American myth.  The person of Paul Bunyan is used to explain lakes, the Tetons, clearing of the country of timber, the Northern Lights, and any number of geologic formations.  However, this has never been a tail I enjoyed because it gets just too outlandish. 
"The Saga of Wind Wagon Smith" (1961) with Rex Allen and the Sons of the Pioneers tells another American tall tail.  This tail is based on some true stories, as there were three pioneers who had developed wind powered wagons.  However this type of travel never did gain much popularity.  In this story the Captain rides off into the wind with the mayors daughter, which is a nice touch.  However, the entire town lost their investments. 

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Book Review: Tunnels

Tunnels by: Roderick Gordon and Brian Williams

Will likes to dig, like his dad.  Theirs is a pretty dysfunctional family, but he and his dad share a love of digging and finding things.  However in this book they find much more than the bargained for.  First his father, and then Will and his friend Chester, both find a world under London.  Except this is not a happy world, but a world controlled by the Styz, and everyone is afraid to stand up to them, so for years they have all lived in fear, and at the whim of the Styz.  Will and Chester fall into the middle of this, and are tortured, and questioned, and abused.  Will discovers a new family, and he and his birth brother take off to the surface, but come back to the underground to rescue Chester.
In this world, and ours, not everything is at is would seem.  Relations are not always who you would think they are.  His younger sister may be the most evil Styz of them all.  And your allies sometimes don't have long to live in this environment.
This book took a while to get going, and it is claustrophobic to be under ground so much of the time, but in the end it was very exciting.

Movie Review: **^The Lone Ranger (2013)

This movie did not not receive great acclaim. and it is understandable.  Johnny Depp portrays Tonto and Armie Hammer the Lone Ranger.  The Lone Ranger is deputized by his brother to chase the bandit Butch Cavendish (William Fichtner).  They are betrayed by a ranger, and all killed, with Butch eating the brother's heart as they are long enemies.  However the white horse (later to be called Silver) picks the younger brother as a spirit walker, one who can't be killed in battle, and he comes back to life.  They set off to prevent an Indian war (Butch and his men are impersonating Comanche to incite a war.  They get their war, and the Calvary slaughters the Comanche with a Gatling gun.  This is with the motivation of getting the Indian land where they have discovered silver.  Some of this movie is hard to follow; like how did Tonto get a long ladder on the train which made it so he could change one one train to the other?  How did he get the madame (Helena Bonham Carter) to help him with the bank robbery?  Ruth Wilson portrays the wife of the older brother, and love interest of the Lone Ranger.  Of course the real bad guy is the train boss, who is wanting to use the silver to take over the train company.
Some historical things are weird.  Why did they film in Monument Valley.  There never was a railroad there and it is not on the way to Promontory Point.  The driving of the golden spike is represented, but everything goes awry that day.

Monday, May 5, 2014

Movie Review: ***^Treasure Island (1990 tv movie)

This a made for t.v. movie starring Charlton Heston as Long John Silver.  It really showcases Heston's ability.  He gives Long John the  larger-than-life feel he is known for.  There are enough plot changes between this and the Disney Treasure Island that it is worth viewing.  I especially like the use of a blunder gun, sort of a cannon shot gun, used by the captain.  However they are facing the cannon from ship.  In other words, there are some clever fight scenes.  It is well played the dangerous situation Long John and Master Him Hawkins (a young Christian Bale) find themselves in, and it gets worse when the treasure is already gone.   But it is Heston who makes this movie enjoyable and worthy of a view.  

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Book Review: Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children

This novel introduces us to a new world within our world.  The world of the peculiars.  The author uses old photographs to enhance his story.  This pictures are all in black and white, and show peculiar things.  The author weaves these pictures into a story.  Peculiar children are those with special abilities, either super strength, or bees living inside you, or making fire with your hands. 
Jacob Portman is the grandson of a man who was part of this community, and left to fight in the world war.  He talks about his experiences with his grandson, but as Jacob gets older, he doubts his father's stories more and more.  Father shows him the photographs to prove his stories, but Jacob feels they are just fakes. 
However his grandfather is murdered.  He he actually sees the murderer.  A strange looking monster with tentacles coming out of his mouth.  Nobody believes him.  This is just a reaction to the trauma.  He is taken to a psychiatrist.  he goes through his grandfather's things, trying to gain closure.  He decides to go to England to investigate, and his psychiatrist encourages him in this.  He and his father travel to England, and he begins looking for his father's friends.  He is told they were all bombed out in the war. 
He decides to visit the area anyway.  In the end he comes upon them, having passed through a time loop.  Only peculiars can pass through time loops.  He discovers his having seen a hollow is his power.  The are generally invisible.  He meets a girl of extraordinary strength, a boy with bees inside himself, a girl who floats, a girl who makes fire with her hands, a boy who is invisible and others.  This world and time loop is kept together by an Ybryne, Miss Peregrine.  A bomb had fallen on their house, however the loop begins seconds before this happens, and those in the loop continually relive the same day.  They do not age. 
This story gets interesting.  A world based on magic is not without conflict.  There ae those who would manipulate magic to gain immortality, but this is not without a price.

Book Review: Hollow City: The Second Novel of Miss Peregrine's Peculiar Children

Hollow City: The Second Novel of Miss Peregrine's Peculiar Children by: Ransom Riggs, Quirk Books, Philadelphia, PA, 2014.

This is the continuing story of the peculiar children who were discovered in the first novel by Jacob Portman, who later discovers that he himself is peculiar.  However his peculiarity is different.  He can see hollows.  Jacob's grandfather was one of the peculiar community, who left.  His grandfather is killed by a hollow.  Jacob saw the monster.  He finally determines to visit his grandfather's old island, which is part of Britain, at the suggestion of his psychiatrist.  He meets Emma Bloom, his grandfather's girlfriend, but who is still his own age.  He develops a relationship with her.  The peculiar children are in a time loop created by Miss Peregrine, an ymbryne.  An ymbryne is someone who can manipulate time, and also has two forms, as a human and as a bird.  The second novel begins after the loop had been invaded.  Turns out the psychologist was in fact a wight, a group of fanatics who want to make themselves immortal.  Miss Peregrine is kidnapped.  The peculiars rescued her, but she was locked in the form of a bird.
So this novel starts with the children heading to the mainland, in an effort to save Miss Peregrine.
This is a fascinating book, as our peculiars meet more peculiars, and also a group of gypsies.  They have brought a book of peculiar legend with them, and this book gives them direction to continue their journey.  They discover there is an ymbryne who can help them, but she is in London.  However, at the same time she is hunted by the wights, as she is needed for completion of the process of immortality. 
This is a great travel novel.  Our peculiars have to overcome being captured.  The finally meet the other ymbryne, but this novel doesn't turn out as expected.  A great read.  My only regret is having to wait for the next book.  Upon occasion the lead character tends to crude language, but for the most part this does not happen.

Friday, May 2, 2014

Music Review: ***Peter Paul and Mommy Too

This CD was released by Peter Paul in Mary in 1993 as a recording for children.  I do not think this is their forte.  Some of the songs just go into gobbledegook as the try to be funny.  Those songs don't work.  However, there are a couple of songs which make this CD worthwhile.  Puff the Magic Dragon is a song that works, with its story of the boy and the dragon, and his outgrowing the dragon as he gets older.  However the song I like the most from this CD is the "Garden Song."
Inch by inch, row by row, gonna make this garden grow
All it takes is a rake and a hoe and a piece of fertile ground
Inch by inch, row by row someone bless these seeds I sow
Someone warm them from below
Til the rain comes tumbling down

Pullin' weeds and pickin' stones
We are made of dreams and bones
I feel the need to grow my own cause the time is close at hand
Grain for grain, sun and rain I'll find my way in nature's chain
Tune my body and my brain to the music of the land


Plant your rows straight and long
Temper them with prayer and song
Mother earth will keep you strong if you give her love and care
An old crow watching hungrily from his perch in yonder tree
In my garden I'm as free as that feathered thief up there

This song is beautiful, and almost makes it worth it to put up with the antics on some of the other songs.

They also strike a chord with "Somos el Barco", "Don't Ever Take Away Our Freedom" and "Pastures of Heaven."  Mary's alto quality is just beautiful to listen to, and Peter and Paul also have pleasant voices.  They work well together. 

The final song on this CD is another one of the special songs.  "We Shall Overcome" is a song of empowerment.  It came to signify the Civil Rights Movement.  These three sang the song on marches with Martin Luther King.  More recently other politicians have hijacked its message.  It is good to remind you that there is strength in numbers. 

We shall overcome, we shall overcome,
We shall overcome some day
Oh, deep in my heart, I do believe we shall overcome some day

We shall all be free, we shall all be free,
We shall all be free some day
Oh, deep in my heart, I do believe we shall overcome some day

We shall live in peace, we shall live in peace,
We shall live in peace some day
Oh, deep in my heart, I do believe we shall overcome some day

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Book Review: The Spiderwick Chronicles: Goblins Attack: Special Edition of the Seeing Stone.

This is a small book put together as a book for young readers.  It has a couple chapters from “The Seeing Stone” where Jared takes the seeing stone, and Simon is hauled off kidnapped by the goblins.  It also has an extra chapter of events that took place before the Simons moved into their aunt’s house.  Thimbletack was content with being a Brownie, keeping the house clean after Aunt Lucinda went away, always looking for her to return.  But 25 years was a bit much.  In addition the goblins attacked, asking for the secret book, which he has been protecting all this time.  He is only able to escape using his wit, but as he sits in the chair and thinks of his lot, he becomes more angry and more angry.  Why should he have to protect the book.  As he thinks, he slowly turns into a Boggart, and doesn’t care that water has spilled, and mixed with soot staining the carpet.