Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Book Review: Small Steps

Small Steps, by, Louis Sachar, Delacorte, New York 2006.  This is the third book based on the Holes theme written by Louis Sachar.  This book focuses on the character Arm Pit and his relationship with a famous singer Kaira De Leon.  He and X-Ray, also from Holes enter into a ticket scalping arrangement with Arm Pit putting up the money to buy the tickets from his landscaping job, and X-Ray putting in the selling skills.  They purchased twelve tickets, and when they only have two left to sell, Arm Pit decides to take his friend, his next door neighbor girl who has cerebral palsy.  However X-Ray balks.  He has been promised a good amount of money for the tickets.  However X-Ray brings the tickets--which turn out to be photostatic copied counterfeits.  X-Ray sold the tickets after all. 
The scuffle of when Arm Pit is arrested, leads to the performer noticing him, and his friend Ginny.  She invites them back stage, and then onto the stage behind the sound system to see the concert. 
This book is slow at the first, but after the concert the pace really picks up.  There even is an attempted murder and lots of violence, and turns out Arm Pit (Theodore) ends up a hero, although we don't know if he gets the girl.  Kaira records one last song, which tells the story of she and Arm Pit--taking "Small Steps."

Monday, September 29, 2014

Movie Review: ****^Angel and the Badman (John Wayne, 1947)

This is John Wayne at his best.  He portrays an outlaw, Quirt Evans who is taken in by a Quaker family after he has been shot.  They nurse him back to health, and while he recovers their daughter (Gail Russel), falls in love with him.  This movie is a conflict of cultures, the gun-slinging outlaw and the peaceful Quakers, who do not allow guns in the house.  And she slowly gets to him.  This is a movie about the power of a woman.  When she gets under his skin, his whole existence changes.  He converts form a bad man to a farmer.  However he is a farmer with a few bad people after him from his past.  When they attempt to kill him, and the girl is injured, Evans has to decide what he really believes.  The Marshall is portrayed by Harry Carey.  He is hounding Evans, but it is him who makes it so this movie doesn't have a terrible ending.  I kept thinking it was going to end bad, it just had to.
Carey must have died shortly after production as he died in 1947. 

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Movie Review: ***^Monuments Men

Talk about you all star cast.  This movie has Matt Damon, George Clooney, Bill Murray, John Goodman and Cate Blanchett.  However, I did not connect in a real internal way with this movie.  The story is about a group of Allies, art experts, trying to rescue art that has been stolen by the Nazis, before it is destroyed, or falls into the hands of the Soviets.  There efforts a thwarted on all sides, by the Nazis, and by the Allies, who are not interested in not bombing certain places because of the value of the art, they are interested in saving men.  This becomes the major theme of the movie, is saving art worth the loss of human life?  This movie is loosely based on the book by Robert Edsel The Monuments Men: Allied Heroes, Nazi Thieves and the Greatest Treasure Hunt in History.  It was produced, directed, and script written by George Clooney. 

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Movie Review: ***^Justin and the Knights of Valour (2013)

Tony and I enjoyed this movie for movie night.  Tony actually started it.  What happens when you father, the king, has outlawed all Knights, and you feel your destiny is to become a knight.  This is a show of family conflict, but also growth from a boy to a man.  It also involves discovering who you really love, and it is not always the high society person, but sometimes the kitchen maid.  This movie stars Freddie Highmore as Justin, Tamsin Egerton as Lara, his crush but the wrong girl, and Saoirse Ronan as Talia, the spunky girl he meets and Antonio Banderas as Sir Clorex, a fake knight.  Mark Strong portrays Sir Heraclio, a banished knight who is coming back to seek revenge.  A lesson learned in this film is that trying to make everyone equal so as to preserve peace it not always a good idea.  There are those that are always willing to fill the void when you rule from weakness.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Movie Review: ***The Fighting Seabees (John Wayne, 1944)

Finally a John Wayne movie where he doesn't end up with the girl at the end.  John Wayne portrays Wedge Donovan, an owner of construction men who work with the Navy in WWII.  However, as they are civilians they are not allowed to carry weapons or defend themselves.  He befriends Ly Commander Robert Yarrow (Dennis O'Keefe) and his girlfriend Constance Chelsey (Susan Hayward) who wants Donovan's help to change the Navy rules about civilians.  Donovan is head strong, and goes against commands, resulting in many of his men being killed.  Chelsey is wounded in this battle, and Donovan blames himself.  Their relationship cools as he had almost come between his friend and his girlfriend. 
However, he does go back through military training and becomes a lieutenant commander.  They are then on opposite sides of the island working on different projects when they are attacked.  There is a hot battle.
This movie would have received higher marks except for the caricatures of the Japanese tank drivers, and too much smoking.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Music Review: Celtic Thunder: Storm

Celtic Thunder: Storm, composed by Phil Coulter, 2011.
This seems to be a follow-up to the popularity of Celtic Women, however it doesn’t have the same impact to me.  There is something about the music that seems contrived, like they were trying to create some conflict or drama in the music, and for me it just isn’t there.  However, I like that the start by paying tribute to God.  “New Day Dawning”
Thank you, Lord, for a new day dawning
Over our mountains and valleys of green
Thank you, Lord, for a new day dawning
And shining Your light from above
All over this land that we love
 
The songs though nice and the singing reflects a range of accomplishment.  Of this is the song “When you’re 18.”  The young man does a good job.  There also seems to be some conflict with a love triangle, but based on only the music this is hard to tell.  I think this must be based on a dramatic version where more of the story is portrayed. 
I like the way this C.D. ends as well.  They give tribute to their heroes. 
“Hail the Hero”
Hail the hero, strong and true
Who fought the fight and saw it through
Who swore he ne'er would be a slave
And gave his life, our land to save

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Music Review: Manteca Stake Broadway Review 2014


 I know it is not kosher to review something you are in yourself, so I won't review my own performance other than to say it is much better than what I did last year.  However there are a couple of performances I wanted to recommend.  Most of us are amateur performers, with our director Christine Papworth trying to get the best out of us.  I sure for her it is like pulling teeth.  However there are a few performers who could be professional musicians.
For example, check out Nathalia Anderson singing "Defying Gravity" from Wicked.  I can actually feel her flying the way she uses her voice.  Her performance could be on Broadway.  Also her husband, Neil Anderson singing "'Til I Hear You Sing" from Love Never Dies.  Sarah McGuire did an excellent job of "Nothing" form Chorus Line.  She has an easiness with getting the music right but also the actions so you can see in  your mind what she is singing.  Marin Haws sang "The Steps of the Palace" from Into the Woods and created an interested princess.  "Simmer Nights" from Grease was a performance by members of our ward.  The energy of this song is very entertaining and you can tell they were having fun.
In addition to the vocals there was instrumental music including oboe and organ.  Jean Robinson played Phantom of the Opera on the organ.  Even the music is scary but good to set the stage for Halloween.
About a third of the way through there is a 9/11 tribute with the "Star Spangled Banner," "God Bless America" and "Taps."
I am sharing someone else's recording.  With this link you can choose to watch the entire performance, or pick out the songs you like best.   Perhaps your favorites will be different than mine.  One thing for sure, there are many very talented people in our stake, and they can put on a good show.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Movie Review: ***^ Rio Lobo (1970)


This is a John Wayne full length feature which presents John Wayne at his best.  Wayne portrays Colonel McNally a Union officer.  He befriends two Confederates, Captain Cordona (Jorge Rivero) and Sargeant Phillips (Christopher Mitchum), who are helping him find the people who betrayed his unit.  This would be treason, as Union secrets were sold which resulted in the death of McNally's friend.  This story is intense.  Former Sergeant Ketchum, (Victor French) one of the betrayers settled in Rio Lobo, and has taken over the town by manipulating the sheriff to help him in this task.  This has included, unjust incarceration murder and blackmail.  Doing this he has been able to acquire most of the town and water rights.  Also in the mix, because the Sherriff and his men murdered her friend is Shasta Delaney (Jennifer O'Neal.)  She insists on being part of the group who is going to confront the bad guys 
This bad blood boils over into a pretty intense gun battle, with a little bit of dynamite thrown in.  It also shows that if you hurt enough people, sooner or later they will have their day.
They did something weird with the camera often when changing scenes which was obnoxious.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Music Review: Aerosmith Greatest Hits 1980

This is the first compilation of singles by the band Aerosmith.  In includes many of the earlier songs of Aerosmith.  The two I like best are, "Dream On."  This band is still often performed by Aerosmith.  The other is an Aerosmith cover for the Beattles song, "Come Together."  This version of this song I could listen to over and over.  Their other songs in this mix you have to really have a thing for Aerosmith to enjoy.  However, they did ark Aerosmith as one of the reigning rock bands of the era.  Steve Tyler on vocals and Joe Perry on lead guitar make a good combination. 

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Movie Review: ***^Rainbow Valley (John Wayne, 1935)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=msQ5ewVVhco
John Wayne portrays John Martin, a drifter, just out of prison who heads for Rainbow Valley, a community which has been subject to a band of outlaws, who won't even let the town folk make a road out for fear that this will bring the law.  They have the community pretty well pinned in.  Martin rescues the mail carrier, George Hale (George Gabby Hayes) and Old Nellie, his car from the outlaws, and in doing so meets the mail mistress, Eleanor (Lucile Brown.)  Martin takes the precarious position of road foreman, and has to defend his workers from the gang.  Hale helps with his car and some dynamite he has from the mine.  When the town discovers Martin is and ex con, they assume he is with the outlaws, and decide to take them all out once and for all.  Everyone is headed for a big battle. 

Movie Review: ***^ 'Neath the Arizona Skies, (John Wayne 1934)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DspL3QcfcfM
'Neath the Arizona Skies, John Wayne, Lone Star Pictures, 1934.
This is another formula movie from Lone Star Pictures.  These movies always have the same theme, John Wayne is chased by either the law or the bad guys, he meets a girl, John Wayne resolves the conflict and he gets the girl.  In this case there are two girls, Nina, (Shirley Jean Rickert) a mixed blood child who Chris Morrell (John Wayne) has raised.  He has to find her White birth father so Nina can get access to her oil royalties money.  However the outlaw, Sam Black (Yakima Canutt) also have desires for the royalty money.  They are after Chris who gets away, but collapses from the consequences of a fight.  While he is unconscious, a bandit Jim Moore (Jay Wilsey) changes clothes with him.  He is then rescued and taken to the ranch of the brother of the outlaw, Clara Moore (Sheila Terry.)  Again there is lots of shooting and fighting.  There is double cross and horse chase.  There is even a jump into the lake at the end of the horse chase.  A couple danglers at the end, is Nina's father killed, is the brother killed?  They are both shot.
The little girl added something to this movie which makes it a bit more interested than the regular movie from Lone Star.

Movie Review: ***Daniel Boone Trailbazer (1956)

This is the story of Daniel Boone and the Shawnee Indians after the establishment of Fort Boonesburrough.   Daniel Boone helped establish the West when the West was Kentucky.  It starts with the death of Daniel Boone's son, who in fact was killed by Indians.  However from there it tells a story which I am not sure is based in history or just a story.  The story presents the British turning the Shawnee against the white settlers, resulting in an all out assault against the fort.
This movie has plenty of action and death.  It has romance between Boone and his wife, as well as his daughter and a settler.  It does not have Native Americans portraying the Native American parts.  This movie features Bruce Bennett as Daniel Boone, Lon Chaney as Chief Blackfish, Jaqueline Evans as Boone's wife and Nancy Rodman as his daughter and Faron Young as her love interest.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Music Review: Joanne Shenandoah, Orenda: Native American Songs of Life

Joanne Shenandoah, Orenda: Native American Songs of Life, with Lawrence Laughing, AllMusic, 1998.
This is some beautiful music.  They sing in their native language, Mohawk.  However there is included a type of written narration which gives some idea of what is being said.  These are songs for the long house.  The music and harmony are very nice. They sing alone, and then sing together and it makes for a nice blend.  There are a couple times when they have narration under the vocal or instrumental and this I didn’t care for.  It was usually to soft to actually hear. 
My favorite song is “In Love.”  It has a lively celebratory tone.  You can feel the happiness of being in love.  This is the Mohawk rabbit Song, a traditional dance in which the women select yheir partner and they dance around the singers.  An elder said the Rabbit Dance was like a marriage ‘two steps forward, one back.”

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

TV Review: *^Enter the Lone Ranger

Enter the Lone Ranger 1949
This I think is the original Lone Ranger.  I didn't like it very much.  It was just too syrupy.  The narration played into this, heroic stuff which comes off as not genuine.  Clayton Moore stars as the Lone Ranger and Jay Silverheels, a Mohawk from Canada, as Tonto.  This first movie talks of where the Lone Ranger got his identity, why he wears a mask, why he uses silver bullets and doesn't shot to kill.
This is c rated material at best.   I love William Tell's Overture, and the reason I love it is be cause of watching the Lone Ranger as a youth.

TV Review: ***^Rawhide: Pilot 1959: Incident of the Tumbleweed

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6YrRx3GMXzQ
There are eight seasons and at least 216 episodes of Rawhide  This is the first.  We are presented to trail hand Rowdy (Clint Eastwood) and Trail Boss Gil Favor (Eric Fleming.)  In this episode, tumbleweed refers to a prison wagon that they run into along the trail.  There are seven prisoners inside, one of them being the girlfriend of a notorious outlaw, and also a couple of his gang. 
They make their escape, and the cattlemen intervene.  However one of the gang escapes, supposedly to go get the leader of the gang.  The deputy is killed, and the sheriff is wounded.  Favor chooses Rowdy to come with him as they handle the prisoners.  The other men will drive the herd.
Eventually the gang catches up with them, as they are crossing a river.  This episode has a different ending than might be expected, as some of the prisoners seek redemption.
There is some gun play and fist fighting, and even violence towards the woman--although she gives back her own.  Terry Moore guest stars as the woman prisoner.
This episode was entertaining.  I didn't watch Rawhide as a youth. However this film had plenty of action, and the prison wagon was very interesting the way it was portrayed.  Very enjoyable.

Music Review: Britney Spears: The Singles Collection

Britney Spears, The Singles Collection, 2009.
This CD tells me definitely I do not like the songs Britney Spears sings.  There was a time I enjoyed listening to her, but this was too sexualized or something.  I could just see her make a fool of herself.  From the titles of the songs, you can see something wrong: Born to Make you Happy, Oops I did it again, I’m a Slave for you, Gimme More, Piece of Me, Womanizer.  This C.D. is for women who want to feel like someone’s possession, and men who want to possess.  Not much redeeming value here.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Movie Review: ***Against a Crooked Sky

This is a Western film with some Mormon influences.  For example the lead is played by Stewart Petersen who is Mormon.  Doug Stewart wrote the script.  It was produced by Feature Films for Families, if not a Mormon Company caters to Mormon families. Lex de Azevedo wrote the music.
The story line goes that older sister is kidnapped by a native American group nobody knows about.  They live in a secluded area and it is hinted they are descended from the ancients.  They use many southern Utah locations like Dead man's Point.  They visit the Shoshone and the Cheyenne seeking information, then go through Apache territory and then find the tribe beyond the crooked sky where the overlook Dead Man's Point.  The cliffs and the terrain have much to do with the story, but the geography of where tribes are located is screwy. 
Sometimes the acting is a little stiff as well.  As is the story.  Turns out, the character played by Petersen, the younger brother Sam, feels guilty about his sister being kidnapped, so takes off trying to find her, and is saved from drowning by Russian, (Richard Boone) an old trapper.  He does find a head band with some secret symbols; and when he tries again this leads him to a mute guide from amongst the Cheyenne, who wants to go home to his people to die.
And so he does, but he is murdered.  The older sister is accused, and Sam has to beat the Crooked Sky in a one-day run, or his sister will be shot with an arrow.
This movie has an emotional ending which depicts a mother's love.  However it does offer much on the way other the the trapper drinking a lot and being mad his dog is killed.  It does show sisterly love between the kidnap victim and the sister of her kidnapper.  They have a relationship based on love.

Movie Review: ***^Concrete Cowboys (Tom Selleck)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dY_7vsH1FYw
This is a 1979 made-for-tv movie starring Tom Selleck as Will Eubanks and Jerry Reed as J.D. Reed.  Eaubanks and Reed are two down on their luck drifters from Montana, who end up in Nashville after hopping a train.  In Nashville they have a friend, Lonnie (Randy Powell) who says they can stay at his house, provided they pick up a package for him  He is going to be out of town. 
This they do, and then they get sucked into acting as private detectives to find a sister of their customer named Karla (Morgan Fairchild.)  The sister had come to Nashville to make it in music, and although she didn't make it big, she met some stars, most recently Woody Stone (Claude Akins.)  However, in their search, the become the target for attempted murder.  First someone shoots at them, and then their car is blown up.  It gets more and more interesting--and our two drifters are not really detectives.  Can they figure this mess out and get away with their lives?
This movie also affords the opportunity to show a couple Nashville acts.  We see Ray Stevens perform a funny song and also meet Barbara Mandrell and Roy Acuff.
I liked this show.  It had some action nd some humor and some mystery.  It also had some country music and artists.  

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Movie Review: *****When the Game Stands Tall

This is the best movie I have seen in some time.  It has a Christian undercurrent, which I like; of course it is based on the story of a Catholic High School football team, De La Salle from Concord, CA.  I had heard the story of the team, but this movie is spectacular.  This movie starts with the record, 151 consecutive victories.  But then it goes further.  It explores adversity.  A graduating player's mother is in a coma; and he feels he has no one.  Then Coach Bob Ladouceur has a heart attack, and can't coach for a time.  One of the graduating seniors is murdered, before he can play college ball.  That is hard to understand.  However Coach talks of his funeral, and puts this into some perspective.  That his father and grandmother could be proud of raising such a good young man. 
They add to this hardship, with a loss to start the season, they streak of consecutive wins is over at 151. 
This movie is about overcoming hardship.  About bouncing back, and holding your head up.  The coach always reminded the players it wasn't about winning, but giving your best, and becoming outstanding young men and citizens.
This is a movie I recommend everyone see.  It is excellent.  It is incredible how you can get vested in football games that were played so many years ago, but there I was, rooting and cringing when things didn't go right; Well done!
The cast Coach Bob Ladouceur (Jim Caviezel)
Chris Ryan (player pursuing a touchdown record, Alexander Ludwig)
Terry Edison (assistant coach, Michael Chiklis)

Coach's wife Bev Ladouceur (Laura Dern)

Ryan's father Mickey (Clancy Brown)



Coach's son Danny (Matthew Daddario)


















Book Review: Mother Goose in Prose

Mother Goose in Prose by: L Frank Baum
This is L Frank Baum's first children's book, but showed the promise of what was to come.  In this book, he takes several Mother Goose nursery rhymes, and then tells the rest of the story.  There are 22 different stories. If you ever wanted to know the rest of the story with regards to Mother Goose then here it is.  I found the background story, or the beginning story very amusing, and sometimes humorous.  It makes some of those stories have a new meaning.

Movie Review: ***^The Dawn Rider (John Wayne)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=10_a_Ho4kZo
The Dawn Rider, Lone Star Production, 1935.
This is an excellent show about loyalties.  John Mason (John Wayne) has been away for many years.  He arrives home just in time to witness his father's murder, by a man with a polka-dotted handkerchief, Rudd Gordon (Dennis Moore.)  He and his friend, his dad's employee, Ben McClure (Reed Howes) set out to capture the thieves and murderers.    It turns out that the murderer is the brother of McClure's girlfriend, Alice Gordon (Marion Burns.)  Also in cahoots with the bad guys is the barkeeper (Yakima Canutt.)  They give word of a gold shipment, which is a ruse to smoke out the criminals.  It works and they get most of the bad guys, but Rudd gets away.  This leads to a showdown.  McClure's loyalties are confused, as he thinks Mason is honing in on his girlfriend.  He leaves Mason to face a shoot off with Rudd, with no bullets in his gun.
The undertaker lets everyone know he is pleased with the amount of business coming his way.
This agains shows John Wayne and has plenty of adventure.  Sometimes the background dialogue comes to the foreground in an confusing manner.  There is also a scene where the horse must trip because it doesn't show anyone shooting.  It was a bit confusing. 

Movie Review: ***Two-Fisted Law

Two-Fisted Law, Columbia Classic Westerns 1932.  This old Western has John Wayne in a supporting role and Tim McCoy as the lead.  McCoy portrays Tim Clark, who loses his land to a money grubber, Bob Russell (Wheeler Oakman).  Clark decides to try his luck at prospecting, to get enough money to buy his place back.  However he first says goodbye to Betty Owen (Alice Day) who is the daughter of the ranch owner next door.  He leaves a colt with her, and the promise to come back.  John Wayne portrays a ranch hand he worked for Clark, and now is going to work for the Owens ranch. 
In the interim two years that Clark is away, Russel has bought up the loan on the Owen ranch.  Betty's father has passed away.  Russell proposes marriage to her, and she turns him down.  The not comes due in three days.  Clark returns, and says he will get the money to pay off the ranch.  In the meantime he is accused of a robbery and murder in town.  He makes his escape, and returns with money just in time to pay off the debt.  He allows himself to be arrested, and Betty pays the bond so he can be on his way; he has additional business to attend to.  It is discovered that on of Russell's men was involved in the robbery and murder. 
However Russell is still out to get Clark.  It appears he knows to much about thee goings on of Russell.  His plan seems pretty sound and the trap is set.
I enjoyed the action again.  These people must have abused their horses with some of the stunts they do.  The female lead still seems a bit contrived to me, however this was a stronger role.  Betty trained a horse, and showed her riding skills.   

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Movie Review: ***The Sagebrush Trail (John Wayne)

The Sagebrush Trail, A Lone Star Picture, 1933.
John Wayne stars as John Brant, an escaped convicted murder.  He did not commit the murder, and there was a witness who could have exonerated him, but that person escaped to the West.  Brant has escaped and headed to where he feels the man may have gone, the man who actually committed the murder.
He escapes the sheriff to be picked up by a bandit, Bob Jones (Lance Chandler,) and made part of a gang of thieves.  However, in an effort to not get buried deeper by the law, he secretly gives the gang's plans to a woman, Sally Blake (Nancy Shubert) who helps run a store in town.  This can only go bad. especially when his friend discovers that he is a stool pigeon.  He sets Brant up to be ambushed by the gang, but when Blake tells him the true identity of Brant will he have a change of heart.
This movie again captures the adventure of the Western.  This movie does have it flaws and is in black and white, but it tells a good story.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Movie Review: ***The Star Packer (John Wayne)

The Star Packer, Lone Star Pictures, directed by R.N. Bradbury 1934.
John Teavers (John Wayne) is a Federal Marshall with his Native American companion Yak (Yakima Canutt)  They have come to town to put a stop to The Shadow (George Hayes) and his gang who have been stealing, killing town sheriffs and stage drivers.  This is a mystery at its finest.  The bad guys are able to shoot the sheriffs in the middle of town, with no one noticing what happens.  It really is a puzzle that takes all the Marshall's boldness, and Yak's cunning to crack.  There are many notorious bad guys in the gang at the hide out; not only that they also have a machine gun.  Anita Matlock (Verna Hillie) has come to claim her father's share of the ranch, but her uncle is not very thrilled.  Teavers has to rescue her a couple times, and with rescuing comes love.

Music Review: Greatest Hits: The Who Album (2009)

This album stands our because of the instrumental experimentation throughout.  The Who seem to push the limits with their instruments, trying new things.  Most of it works, and sometimes a song falls flat, or becomes repetitive. 
Some of the songs that work,  “Pin Ball Wizard is a classic.”  This song can be listened to over and over.  The same can be said of the theme song for CSI “Who Are You?”  This is written by Peter Townshend and vocalized by Roger Daltry. 
There are a couple other songs worth note, because the instrumental adds to the piece and it makes for some good music.  “The Kids are Alright” also has a clever lyric.  Baba O’Riley is doing something with the keyboard that is very effective, and then the vocals on top of this makes for some good music.  “Love Reign Over Me” has some neat bass playing, and then ends with about 45 seconds of drum craziness.  It is fun. 
I like most of their music, and some I don’t.  There is some of the songs that are a bit inappropriate sexually, or demonstrate a male dominant view point.  “You Better, You Bet” gives the impression the woman has no choices in a relationship.  SHe has to do what her husband wants.  This attitude can lead to domestic abuse.  “Squeeze Box" is just a bit too explicit for me, unless I am putting something into the song that is not there; but I don’t think so.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Movie Review: ***The Trail Beyond (John Wayne, 1934)

John Wayne, This John Wayne Western has a different twist.  It starts with Rod (Wayne) headed to Canada to find the long lost niece of his friend.  He is also going to see what happened to his friend’s brother who  disappeared some years before. 
On the train he meets an old college buddy, Wabi (Noah Beery Jr.)  His buddy is involved in a poker game that goes bad.  One of the players is shot, and the other two blame him.  He assumes the player shot has been murdered.  Wayne comes and helps him escape from the other two, and they  jump from the train into the river; but just like that they are fugitives.
They still head north, and discover the friend’s brother, dead in a cabin with his partner in a gold mine.  They find the map to the mine.  Now they are not only looking for a girl, but also gold.
They make it to the north, Where Robbie grew up, and meet a young woman (Verna Hillie) who works there.  Robbie has a thing for her.  However in the conflict between trading posts, this young woman is kidnapped, hoping she will give them the combination to the safe where Rod stored his map to the mine. 
This movie has something different—a canoe chase.  It was really quite exciting.  And when the Canadian Mountie shows up to arrest our protagonists, he is shot and almost goes over the waterfall.
There is a big battle with much conflict and shooting between one trading post, and the neighboring community who come to save the day. 
I didn’t like the abrupt ending.  Rod discovers the girl at the trading post is who he was looking for, but his friend withheld this information because he was hoping to keep her around.  He had a sense she would leave him.
This movie leaves some danglers at the end which I did not like.  It ended very abruptly like they had a time limit and were almost over their time.  However I can see why John Wayne and Western movie are so popular.  They are very exciting. 

Movie Review: **** Tarzan (1999)

Tarzan, Disney
This is less of a musical than some of Disney's other animated movies, and more Phil Collins singing his songs as background music. "You'll be in my Heart" won an Oscar for best original song.  
However Tony and I loved this show.  It is a telling of the Edgar Rice Burroughs classic.  It was good action, neat animals, and Tarzan can (Tony Goldwyn) slide on limbs and jump from vine to vine like nobody’s business.  It has the intrigue of Tarzan being raised by the apes, after jaguar kills his parents.   (His mother is voiced by Glen Close.)  It also has the pretty girl, Jane (Minnie Driver) and the mean hunter, Clayton (Brian Blessed) who hopes to become rich by selling all the gorillas to zoos.
This is a movie about friendship, and how in the end, friendship is important, and can overcome pride.  Tarzan is torn between his own kind and those he has lived with.  This makes for some sentimental pleasantness.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Movie Review: Galaxy Quest

This movie is made on a very outlandish premise, but it actually works, and is very enjoyable.  What if an alien race had been watching your old space television episodes, and had seen your exploits, and heroics, as shown in the t.v. series?   And this race of people were in bad need of heroes and rescuing?  And they had built a ship to all the specifications mentioned in the show?  Even if they were stupid?  And all they needed were the people from those ships to captain and pilot the vessel.  And they had the means to travel over large distances and come and get you?  Of course the would do so.  And would you actually be the hero you had portrayed in the t.v. episodes?  Or would you just be an old has been who goes around to old sci-fi conventions were you mingle with all the nerds?
Tim Allen stars as the Captain.  Other crew members are Gwen DeMarco (Sijourney Weaver), Alexander Dane (Alan Rickman) and Fred Kwan (Tony Shalhoub).

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Movie Review: ***Texas Terror (John Wayne)

Texas Terror: A Lone Star Picture, 1935.
John Wayne stars as the sheriff of a Texas town, and in a botched robbery his best friend is killed.  He was counting on courting his friend's daughter when she returns from school in the East in another year.  A gang of three actually were guilty of the killing, but they skedaddled, and left the money behind after the killing.   
However, Sheriff John Higgins (Wayne) is left with the impression he shot his friend in a shoot out, and his friend had been part of the robbery.  He leaves his job distraught, and heads to the mountains to live the hermit's life. 
A year later, when the daughter Bess Mathews (Lucile Brown) returns, in a motorized stage, the stage is robbed while she is around the corner stretching her legs.  However the driver is shot (not killed) and the robbers take off with express money.  Higgins comes upon them and retakes the express money.  (He doesn't see the girl until later.)  The robbers start following them, but he is able to hold them off.  He comes upon the girl, gets her into the car with the driver where she can drive away to safety.  (He keeps the money.)  Bess assumes he is one of the robbers with his appearance. 
She tells the current sheriff about the robber she saw, and gives his description.  In the meantime, Higgins has come to town to return the money. 
As Bess is set to run her father's ranch, Higgins takes the job of foreman, knowing when she discovers he killed her father, she will hate him.
However, at a town dance, the community gets their first break and first evidence in the robbery and murder.  Someone uses money from the robbery.  This gets Robbins back on the trail, where he can discover what really happened a year before.
I really enjoyed John Wayne's performance, however his female lead was not up to par.  She seemed a bit stiff more my taste. 

Friday, September 5, 2014

My favorite Football Movies

My favorite football movie has to be Rudy.  This is the story of a scrub player for Notre Dame.  However, Remember the Titans, Brian's Son and The Blind Side are all top notch movies.
***** When the Game Stands Tall  2014
http://mmboebillywardle.blogspot.com/2014/09/movie-review-when-game-stands-tall.html
***** Rudy (Sean Astin, 1993)  Tells the story of Rudy, Notre Dame footballer.
  http://mmboebillywardle.blogspot.com/2013/10/movie-review-rudy.html
****^ The Blind Side (Sandra Bullock, 2009)  Tells the story of Michael Oher.
http://mmboebillywardle.blogspot.com/2014/01/movie-review-blind-side-2009.html
****^ Brian's Song (James Caan and Billy Ded Williams, 1971)  Tells the story of Gale Sayers and Brian Piccolo.  http://mmboebillywardle.blogspot.com/2014/04/movie-review-brians-song.html
****^ Remember the Titans (Denzel Washington, 2008)
****Woodlawn  (2015(  Sean Astin Jon Voight 
http://mmboebillywardle.blogspot.com/2017/02/movie-review-woodlawn-2015.html
***^Little Giants
*** Heaven Can Wait (Warren Beatty, 1978)
**^ The Water Boy (Adam Sandler, 1998)
http://mmboebillywardle.blogspot.com/2014/09/movie-review-water-boy.html


Movie Review: **^ The Water Boy

The Water Boy (1998)  This is one of the most confusing stories I have ever heard.  Mostly this movie is a platform for those who enjoy Adam Sandler’s type of humor.  He portrays Bobby Boucher.  We start with the bungling water boy, teased and harassed by the players, but overly conscientious about doing his job.  He is dong the job in honor of his father who. He has been told, died of thirst.  However his bungling interferes with practice, and he is let go. 
He catches on with a different team. The team that never wins.  He shows a skill at tackling, and becomes their linebacker.  (Later he has to pass his GED to stay on the team.)  Not just any linebacker, but a linebacker for the ages.  However his mama doesn’t want him to play.  She insists he sit out the championship bowl game against his former team.  (She just recently discovered he had been playing football.)  It takes some doing, but she changes her mind.  She was trying to hold onto him, as she lost her husband not to thirst, but to another woman.  Of course he makes the second half, his team is behind, but with his moral and physical support, Boucher saves the day. 
There are some things in this movie I would rather not have seen.  The assistant coach is just weird.  I would say this is the worse football movie I have ever seen.
Boucher’s mother is portrayed by Kathy Bates.  His first coach (the mean one who fires him) is portrayed by Jerry Reed.  His new coach is portrayed by Henry Winkler.  
This movie is not appropriate for families or kids.

Music Review: Annie Get Your Gun: Bernadette Peters

Annie Get Your Gun featuring Bernadette Peters, 1999.
This is Bernadette Peters featured in the title role of a Broadway revival of this popular musical.  Tom Wopat portrays Frank.  I must admit, listening to this C.D. there was some sparkle to it—and most of that sparkle centered around these two.  Peters does a terrific job with “You Can’t get a Man with a Gun”.  The reprise, after her heart has been broken just before the end of the first act is even better.  “I Got Lost in His Arms” also highlights the first act. 
The second act is all garbled and misunderstanding.  However when they get to “Anything You Can do I Can do Better” the stage sparkles.  Wopat and Peter do an excellent job, and the characters finally overcome their pride enough to get together.  Pride keeps us from much happiness, and it is good Annie and Frank finally found their happiness.
I enjoyed this music.  As I noted, Peters and Wopat carry the show.  When others were singing, I didn’t care for it very much, but these two make a very good team.
Of course another highlight of the second act is Peters singing, “I Got the Sun in the Morning (and the Moon at Night).”  This is a beautiful song, and helps keep focus on your blessings:
 
Got no diamond, got no pearl,
Still I think I'm a lucky girl.
I've got the sun in the morning
And the moon at night.
Got no mansion, got no yacht,
Still I'm happy with what I got.
I've got the sun in the morning
And the moon at night

Sunshine gives me a lovely day,
Moonlight gives me the Milky Way.
Got no checkbooks, got no banks,
Still, I'd like to express my thanks.
I've got the sun in the morning
And the moon at night.
And with the sun in the morning
And the moon in the evening
I'm alright.

Got no butler, got no maid.
Still I think I've been overpaid,
I've got the sun in the morning
And the moon at night.
Got no silver, got no gold,
What you've got can't be bought or sold.
I've got the sun in the morning
And the moon at night.

Sunshine gives me a lovely day,
Moonlight gives me the Milky Way.
Got no heirlooms for my kin,
Made no will but when I cash in
I'll leave the sun in the morning
And the moon at night.
And with the sun in the morning
And the moon in the evening
I'm alright.

And with the sun in the morning
And the moon in the evening
I'm alright!

Music Review: All Time Low: Put Up or Shut Up

This is a set of music one my older sons must have put in Sheri's play list, and from there it got to mine.  It's not half bad.  All the songs have a good rhythm.  It is hard to understand the lyrics.  The song that sounds the best is "Running from Lions."  It's starts with an interesting musical introduction; and then follows a very nice lyrical melody.  This has the emo rock feel, which can be enjoyable if you get past the emo stuff, and the rock if it's too hard.  This song uses the emo feel, and the rock is just right.
Running from lions, never felt like such a mistake
(Like a deer in the headlights)
Running from lions, never felt like such a mistake
(I won't know what hit me...)
Running from lions, never felt like such a mistake
(Like a deer in the headlights)
Running from lions, never felt like such a...
(I won't know what hit me...)

Don't forget, we've got unfinished business,
stories yet to unfold,
tales that must be retold,
and I regret not knowing when to put an end to all this madness,
keeps me wanting,
keeps me wanting more... 

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Movie Review: ***Broken Arrow (1950)

James Stewart plays Tom Jeffords, a man who pursues peace between the Apache, and their Chief Cochise (Jeff Chandler) and the other Apache chiefs.  At the same time Jeffords falls in love with a Native American Woman Sonseeharay (Debra Paget) who was in the role of the White Lady when Jeffords first visits with Cochise. This movie is about peace between the Apache and the Whites, but also a love story.  Upon the alter of peace, some things must be sacrificed, and Jeffords finds that sometimes that sacrifice is more than you can bear.  At that times sometimes the student becomes the teacher.
This movie is a bit slow as all the romantic stuff gets mixed in with the plot.  It is also more cerebral than most westerns.  Can people coexist in peace? 
Most of the lead native Americans are portrayed by White actors.  However Geronoimo is portrayed by Jay Silverheels.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Movie Review: ****The Giver

The Giver 2014
I found this movie very intriguing. It is based on the book by Lois Lowry.  I enjoyed it.  The premise is that a society has decided to do away with all war and pain and suffering.  They do this by controlling emotion, the weather, no music, everything.  They have even done away with color; everything is black and white.  They do this with daily injections of pills, and a memory inhibiting force field.  Everything is the same for everybody.  Those who are not the same, are released.  (This is a polite way of saying euthanized.)  When Jonas (Brenton Thwaites) is chosen to be the Receiver, everything changes.  The Giver, (Jeff Bridges) is suppose to give him memories of everything from before, so they will be able to advice the counsel. 
However there is another plot going on, of which the Receiver slowly becomes aware.  That is the destruction of the current existence which does not allow joy for there is no pain, does not allow love, for there is no hate.  The Giver wants to bring back love.  To do this, someone must cross the force field where the memories are kept out. 
Glen Close plays the leader of the counsel.  She is very evil in her looks—so plane that she looks evil.  The Receiver is helped by his two childhood friends, Fiona (Odeya Rush) and Asher (Cameron Monaghan). Taylor Swift has a small roll as Rosemary, a prior Receiver who went bad.  Her "release'" is what has been gnawing at the Giver for some time.
This movie makes you think.  Here is Satan’s plan in all its glory.  No free agency, no choice, no love, no one lost.  Everyone knows there place.  Even to the point of “releasing” people without really knowing what you are doing.

Book Review: Spiral (Tunnels 5)

Spiral (Tunnels 5) by Roderick Gordon and Brian Williams, Chicken House, Scholastic, New York, 2012.
This is the fifth installment of this series.  The battle between the Styx and all other sentient beings on the planet takes a couple of twists in this book.  The battle is more in the foreground, if you can see it.  It is mostly carried on by people who are black lit (hypnotized) and have inner parts removed and replaced with bomb material.  In essence, the person is the actual bomb so the bomb cannot be detected.  These bombers are all from England, so now the world is mad at England.
The fight is carried by Drake and his team to the Styx.  The first discover a transformation where the Styx are laying eggs which are to become a super army.  However, Drake and his team are able to intervene in time, but put down this threat.  Now there are two threats however.  Will and Elliot and Drake and a couple of his men went into the inner world, where the Styx were using the New Germanians as hosts.  They went with the goal of sealing the world off with nuclear explosions.  They actually are successful.
However a second operation on the surface does bring success to the Styx, enough success that the entire existence of humanity is in peril.  That is where we leave our story for the next book in the series.
This book has lots of death.  Parents and major characters die during the course of the events.  Chester loses his parents as his mother is darlit and sets of a bomb vest.  Many of Drake’s team lose their lives.  Previously Will lost his father, and his mother was tortured, his brother killed.  This book is different in that regard.  You don’t know who may die next.
However, the action is good, and there is plenty of intrigue.