Sunday, May 31, 2015

Movie Review: ***^Finding Nemo (2003)

This animated Pixar Disney features features Ellen DeGeneres as Dory who joins Marlin (Albert Brooks) in a long journey to Sidney to find Marlin's son Nemo (Alexander Gould) after he is taken by a sea diving dentist to a fish tank and a present for his niece (who has a bad habit of killing the fish given to her).  The adventures of Marlin and Dory make this movie, as they face the deep ocean and an angler fish, then also a sharks anonymous club, "fish are friends, not food."  then they get directions from a school of fish, featuring John Ratzenberger who is in all the Pixar films.  They fish a field of stinging jelly fish, and are rescued by the sea turtle gang; "dude, totally."  This movie has plenty of fun.  I recommend it.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

***Apple Dumpling Gang Rides Again (1979)

Bringing Don Knotts and Tim Conway together was genius; and to use them as often as possible even more so.  Granted there are some plot holes in this movie, and nothing as funny as the fire ladder scene in the first, this movie has lots to laugh at.  It has women falling in the mud, Knotts/Conway slapstick, and just enough plot to give us a story, albeit a little canned.  Clarice the donkey almost teals the show with his loyalty to Tim Conway.  He keeps coming back even when he is not wanted.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Music Review: John Denver at Wembley Arena (1979)

John Denver at Wembley Arena 
This is another John Denver concert, with music almost all different from the Wildlife Concert.  In this set, John Denver is much more a country singer.  This concert is still presented on BBC on occasion.  You have to love John Denver's mellow tones, and his ability to write poetry and put it to music.  his concert again features the flute player who is very nice.  Songs included are: "Welcome to my Morning, Druthers, Rippling Waters, Matthew, Johnnie B. Goode, Goodbye Again, Take Me Home Country Roads, Grandma's Feather Bed, Fill Up My Senses, Calypso and Sunshine on the Water."  You have to love John Denver, and some of these songs just grab me every time I listen to them. 

Movie Review: Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015)

Marvel Comics is out with another Avengers, and this is as exciting as the first.  I thought I might hit overload with all the action taking place.  However this movie also has some humor and some drama mixed in.  We discover that Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner) has a family.  The Hulk (Mark Ruffalo) is still caught up with "I can't trust myself," and Iron Man (Robert Downing Jr.) is not willing to listen to anyone's advise, which gets him in  trouble as Ultron (James Spader) is born.  Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) is in love with the Hulk, and using this love to control him, at times.  We learn more about all of the Avengers, (other than Hawkeye) when they are put under mind control by a new nemesis, Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen).  Another nemesis is the the witch's twin, Quicksilver (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) who has incredible speed.  Thor (Chris Hemsworth) also deals with past issues so he is more effective in the present.  Captain America (Chris Evans) is everyone's favorite leader.  He too deals with issues of having outlived his time.  We are also introduced to a new character, Vision (Paul Bettany) who is the physical version of Iron man's computer, Jarvis.  Fury (Samuel Jackson) also shows up, and his support is needed in the end.  This movie is lots of fun as our heroes try to save the world with as little collateral damage as possible.

Music Review: John Denver, The Wildlife Concert

The Wildlife Concert
This is a very good concert.  This was a 1995 special just a couple years for Denver's death.  It has many of his traditional favorites, and many songs dealing with the environment and wildlife.  It was a very fun concert.  It has "Country Roads," "Back Home Again," "Rocky Mountain High,"  "Shanghai Breezes," "Annie's Song," "Calypso," "Leaving on a Jet Plan" and "Goodbye Again."  John Denver surprises with a Blues song and a rock and roll song.  There are a couple of songs with focus on Denver's mortality.  "Poems Prayers and Promises" explores mortality, and having friends.  "Falling out of Love" focuses on relationships, particularly when they end.
This is a great musical collection.  There is different percussion, flute, saxophone, sting quartet, keyboard and guitar.  Denver plays some songs almost solo and others have the full complement.
Denver also talks a lot about his causes and beliefs, particularly with regards to  caring for the planet and animals.

Monday, May 25, 2015

Sesame Street/Muppet Music

This is someone else's blog, but I feel this is important work, and I don't know how to remember this other than to put a link in my blog.  This is the 50 greatest songs from the Sesame Street characters.  This includes on of my favorite, "I Don't Want to Live on the Moon" sung by Ernie (Jim Henson.)  There are links to performances of all the songs.

Movie Review: The Man Who Never Was

This is an intriguing spy movie based on real facts, to confuse the Nazi's about the intended invasion of the Allies of Southern Europe and the opening of a second front in WWII.  The Allies use a dead man, but papers on him of a confidential nature which would indicate that the Allie attack will take place where it will not, with the goal of the Nazis spreading their forces thin.
This movie also includes counter espionage as the Nazis send an agent to verify the existence of the deceased soldier.  In the fear of revealing too much leave it that this Nazi spy is very good at his job.  The lives of many men are in the balance.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Book Review: Jinx's Magic, Sage Blackwood

Jinx's Magic, Sage Blackwood, Katherine Tegen Books, 2014.

This is the second in this series, and presents the continuing story with Jinx having to learn magic on his own because Simon the wizard has gone off to face the bad wizard.  This is a very good book,  and Jinx has to learn magic without letting anyone know he is learning magic because learning magic is a crime.  However, people are very magical, if he could just discover the key.  Jinx who is the apprentice is growing up fast, and he finds his magic is special because it comes from the forest.  However, he also learns of another magical form KNIP.  This is magic from the city In this book things go from bad to worse.  Jinx does learn magic, but in the meantime the wizard is entrapped by the evil wizard, who wants to rule the world.  The forest begins to retreat, and two or three kingdoms are set to invade the forest and the people who live there to exploit the resource in the trees.  However, to Jinx the trees are alive.  He needs to find away to bring the people of the Urwald together.  These people have always been independent, and never considered themselves a nation.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Book Review: James and the Giant Peach, Roald Dahl

James and the Giant Peach, Roald Dahl illustrated by Quentin Blake, Alfred A. Knopf, New York, 1961.

This is a book I have avoided reading thinking the premise was just silly.  In fact zI also avoided the movie and have never watched the movie.  However in the actual reading I actually enjoyed the book.  The idea of flying off in a peach, could be a common fantasy of anyone who lives in a bad circumstance.  However in this case, it was a magical reality. 
The thing that made this book work was the characters.  The different bugs who join James in the peach have very interesting personalities from the feud between the worm and the centipede to the grasshopper who plays music, to the silk worm and the glow warm and the spider.  All common pests, but actually very interesting characters. 

Monday, May 4, 2015

Music Review: Sammy Davis Jr. Greatest Hits

This is a group of songs recorded live by Sammy Davis Jr.  The album is dated 1995, which is five years after Davis passed away.
I wanted to get this CD for the "Bojangles" song.  This is a classic and I really needed it.  I heard Sammy Davis talk about this song in an interview one time.  Bill "Bojangles" Robinson broke racial barriers to become the most successful African American entertainer of his time.  He started in vaudeville, but is best known for his dancing routines with Shirley Temple.  Sammy Davis Jr. claimed his as a mentor.  He broke many barriers in entertainment.
This song delivered, but there are also some other fun songs in this set.  "I've Got to be Me" and "Candy man" deliver some enjoyable listening.  As does the Dr. Doolittle song, "Talk to the Animals."  Perhaps one of the most fun is "Rock A Bye Your Baby (With a Dixie Melody)"  In this song Davis sings the song in many of his classic voices from Marlon Brando to Cagney Lacy.  It was pretty fun.  However one song he tried something similar, "Life is a Woman" in which he tried to show how to sing the song when you don't remember the words.  It didn't work.

Book Review: A Hero for Wondla, Tony Diterlizzi

A Hero for Wondla, Tony Diterlizzi, Simon and Schuster Books for Young Readers, New York, 2012.

I found this book a very interesting read.  It has a lot to do with trust, and making mistakes, but overcoming mistakes and redeveloping trust.  When one is enthused about something, it would be easy to forget your true core values.  However, in the case Eva Nine realizes what her core values are and she learns to follow her heart.  This is a futuristic Earth, based on genetic engineering and repopulation of the planet.  However it is also an Earth to which creatures from other worlds have come and inhabited, seeking refuge from their own worlds.  This is leading to a conflict between the new comers and the old comers. My only complaint is I got the second in the series to read first.  I am going back to read the first book.