Saturday, August 29, 2015

Book Review: The Last Apprentice (4) Attack of the Fiend

This is the fourth in the series of Apprentice books.  It seems the foes keep getting more and more scary, and there is an increasing amount of evil or the dark in the world.  Our threesome, Tom, the Spook, and Alice travel to Pendle to see what they can do about the witches who are banning together.  (This joining together makes the witches more powerful.). With three covens of witches, other witches from out of the area, numerous others creatures from the dark side, and some good people who are just scared, and the summoning of "the fiend" or devil himself, our heroes have lots to contend with.  Worse, Tom's brother is kidnapped and held, as are Tom's chests containing gifts from his mother.
Even though these stories contain witchcraft and other dark arts, I am enjoying them.  There is lots of action and excitement.

Friday, August 28, 2015

Music Review: Folk Roots: The Sound of Americana

Folk Roots: The Sound of Americana, Perpetual Classics (2007)
Various artists including: Etta Baker, Glenn Yarbrough, Woody Guthrie, Glen Campbell. 

Most of this music missed for the family and I.  (We listened to it in the van while traveling.)  However, their were a coule of songs that I felt had historical note.  The first is about coal mining, and I think the chorus would help describe Isdaac and his working in the coal mine as a child.  

Dark as a Dungeon by: Merle Travis

It's dark as a dungeon and damp as the dew,
Where danger is double and pleasures are few,
Where the rain never falls and the sun never shines
It's dark as a dungeon way down in the mine.

The other which I found interesting has to do with Mormon polygamy.  What is more interesting is the description of the song I found, saying it was not meant to be satirical, but to point out the love of a Mormon polygamist for his wives.  


Old Zack, he came to Utah, way back in seventy three,
A right good Mormon gentleman and a bishop too was he.
He drove a locomotive for the D. and R. G.,
With women he was popular, as popular as could be.

cho: And when he'd whistle ooh! ooh! Mamma'd understand
That Zack was headed homeward on the Denver and Rio Grande.

Old Zack, he claimed to love his wives and love them all the same,
But always little Mabel was the one that Zack would name.
And as he would pass her he'd blow his whistle loud,
And when she'd throw a kiss at him old Zack would look so proud.

Old Zack, he had a wifey in every railroad town.
No matter where he stopped he had a place to lay him down.
And when the his train was coming, well, he wanted her to know,
So as he passed each wifey's home his whistle he would blow.

Now listen everybody, because this story's true,
Old Zack, he had a wife in every town that he passed through.
They tried to make him transfer on to the old U. P.
But Zack said, "No" because his wives were on the D. and R. G.

Tune: Oh Susanna
"This song depicts in comic form life in one type of plural marriage.
It is not intended to be sarcastic. Zack Black was a Mormon bishop
who worked as an engineer for the Denver and Rio Grande Railroad, and
the tale is told that he had a wife in every town he passed through.
Mormon audiences have always enjoyed the humor of the lyrics, especially
when Zack won't accept a transfer to another railroad line because it
is routed through the wrong towns."(Music of the Mormons, p. 28)
Note: "Plural Marriage" is the LDS term for their form of polygamy,
which was practiced from the late 1840's up to 1896,
when the US Supreme Court upheld a law forbidding it. Mormon clergy
were (and are) laymen, who are not paid for their church service and
therefore work "civilian" jobs to sustain their families.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Doobie Brothers - Chicago 1977 Full Concert

This Chicago concert was part of a TV series called Soundstage produced by WTTW Chicago.  This was after the Doobie Brothers had released their 7th album and many of the original band members had left and been replaced.  They had also gone through a stage with three brass pieces.  In this version they have two guitars, and three percussionists, bass and keyboard.  They band members include:
Pat Simmons - Guitar & Vocals
Michael McDonald - Keyboards & Vocals
Jeff 'Skunk' Baxter - Guitar & Vocals
Tiran Porter - Bass & Vocals
John Hartman - Drums & Percussion
Keith Knudsen - Drums & Vocals
Bobby LaKind - Congas & Vocals

Again, the highlight of this series is the last two songs, "Black Water" and "Listen to the Music."  These two songs stir my blood and get me moving.  They are truly rock classics.  I especially like the a'capella part of "Black Water."

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Movie Review: ***The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies (2014)

The Five Armies
This is my least favorite of the six Middle Earth Movies “The Hobbit” and “Fellowship of the Ring”.  The material in this movie, for the most part is not part of the Hobbit, and are not part of the Trilogy as written by J.R.R. Tolkien.  As a result it just seems to get lost with no real purpose.  I guess the director is trying to fill in some holes, but the movie could have been an hour shorter and not have lost anything.  It was like when a five minute fight scene would suffice, why don’t we make it a half hour just because.  As a result the film lost me and I was just hoping for it to end.  Even in ending, it took forever.  Ian McKellan plays Gandalf, Martin Freeman, Bilbo Baggins.  Orlando Bloom portrays Legolas. Richard Armitage as Thorin the King of the dwarves under the mountain.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Book Review: Deltora Shadowlands

Deltona Shadowlands by: Emily Rodda, Scholastic, Australia, 2002.
This is the continuing saga of our three friends, Lief, Jasmine and Barda.  However this time their adventures take them right into the land of the evil Shadow Lord.  Lief, who is now king, must be protected to preserve the Belt of Deltora which they discovered in the first series of books.  This series is three books, in the realms underneath the earth, and then the realm of the Shadow Lands.  The titles of the book give some idea of the challenges.  “Cavern of Fear”, "The Isle of Illusion” and “The Shadowlands”.  These stories are just as exciting as the original Deltora books.  They fast many challenges, mollusk monsters who want to encase them in mud, a vraal which is bred for killing, tiny worms which attach to you brain and makes it so you belong to the Shadow Lord, and many other strange creatures, some of which are helpful—such as the eels who provide rides.  However there is much danger in this world, and the Shadow Lord is not beyond manipulating the facts and putting ideas into people’s minds. 

Monday, August 24, 2015

TV Review: Doctor Who: Season 8

This was a very fun ride this past weekend.  We have the Twelfth Doctor (Peter Cabaldi) played as a sour old man, and Clara (Jenna Coleman) as a beautiful young woman who is torn between her boyfriend (Samuel Anderson) and the Doctor.  They of course have many adventures.  They start in Victorian England, where many people self combust as well as a time traveling dinosaur.  Turns out a robot race is harvesting human body parts to fix their space ship, when end up on the moon with a decision of whether to kill the egg (the moon is an egg) or let the new creature be hatched.  The decision could have eternal consequences for human kind.  The Doctor takes a Q like stance in this one, testing the humans.  This really gets Clara angry.
A recurring character through out the series is Missy, who is collecting dead bodies.  This leads to a climatic finale involving Cyber-men.  The love between Clara and her boyfriend is tested many times, as Clara runs off with the Doctor.  However the final test is even more dramatic.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Music Review: Austin City Limits Hall of Fame: 40th Anniversary

This is a PBS production.  The night was dedicated mostly to Willie Nelson.  He performed the first Austin City Limits, and so it was fitting that he should help in celebrating 40 years.  The story line contends that Austin City Limits is the longest running music program on television.  Although of a different flavor, the Mormon Tabernacle Choir has been aired since early 1960's which would make it longer.  They have had a radio broadcast since 1929.  However, 40 years of performances is a remarkable achievement.

Music Review: Johnny Cash: Live at Montreux

This is a music video of a Johnny Cash concert at the Montreux Jazz Festival in Switzerland and is the second largest jazz festival in the world.  This set presents Johnny Cash at his best, and also includes his wife June Carter as well as his son John Carter.  Of particular note and my favorites are "Get Rhythm" "Ring of Fire" "I Walk the Line" "Let the train Blow the Whistle" and "Jackson."  There is plenty of music here to keep you happy and the Man in Black is at his best.  You can read of the Johnny cash and June Carter story in the movie "I Walk the Line."

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Music Review: Bloomer Girl 1944

Music Review: Bloomer Girl
Evelina (Celeste Holm) is caught between family members.  Her father is a manufacturer of hoops for hoop skirts.  Her aunt is a proponent and created of bloomers, a new alternative to the hoop skirt, more comfortable, more practice; but also scandalous.  This musical was first presented on Broadway in 1944 and this is a remastering of the original recording rereleased in 2001.   
This musical is during the U.S. Civil War.  It tells the story of Evelina's intended, who is from the South, helping a slave escape.  This results in many being arrested with Aunt Bloomer being accused of working with the Underground Railroad.  They escape further problems as the war starts, but all the men leave for the war, Evelina still unmarried.  Her boyfriend is headed to fight for the Confederacy.  But he stops in Washington, where he hears President Lincoln, and changes his loyalties, and returns to propose marriage.  Music bi Harold Arlen, Lyrics by E.Y. Harburg.  There are a couple bonus tracks with Bing Crosby singing "The Eagle and Me" and "Evelina".  For some reason one woman sings in a hick style which is very grating.  The computers also did "Wizard of Oz" but I thought the must've sounded like old Disney, Mickey Mouse.

Monday, August 10, 2015

Movie Review: ****The Lake House (2006)

Dr. Kate Forster (Sandra Bullock) lives at a new lake house, which was the former residence of Alex Wyler (Keanu Reeves) and was designed by Alex' estranged father, Simon Wyler (Christopher Plummer).  Some how, the star corresponding through two years of time, Forster being two years ahead of Alex Wyler.  This difference in time streams makes for an interesting show, and an interesting plot twist.  This is one of those shows which leaves any sane person crying, and then crying some more when you don't think you could.  A dog is the character which somehow is in both time streams.

Movie Review: ***^Taken 3 (2014)

This is the third installment of the Taken series.  This time the plot is a bit different.  Instead of someone being taken like the first two films, in this it becomes personal as Bryan Mills' (Liam Neeson) ex-wife (Famke Janssen) is killed and Mills is framed.  In this movie there is much violence and vehicles crashing.  Much of the violence is aimed at the police.  Which makes the final result a bit confusing.  Liam must stay free in order to solve this crime, and the police of course want to bring him in as he is their prime suspect.
I was confused with one aspect of the plot.  His daughter (Maggie Grace) is kidnapped at the end, however I am not sure of the motivation; except that maybe the murderer kidnapper is working for someone.  Anyway, when everything gets resolved, Mills is given a walk.  There is no repercussion from the police after Mills caused multiple accidents, many involving police officers, and assaulted officers on several occasions.

Saturday, August 8, 2015

Book Review: The Last Apprentice (3): Night of the Soul Stealer

The Last Apprentice: Night of the Soul Stealer by Joseph Delaney, illustrated by Patrick Arrasmith, Glenwillow Books, New York, 2006.
The winter means a move to Anglezarke Moor, and dealings with different people of the dark.  Anglezarke holds some of the Spook’s secrets, including the witch he loves, who he keeps by keeping her drugged.  Alice, the young witch, travels with them, but does not stay in their home, but with some farmers close by; whose son is delving into the dark arts.  Morgan Hurst wants to unleash the old god Golgoth, because he feels this will give him power; the power to kill others at his will.  But to do so, he must steal a book from the Spook, and recruits Tom the Apprentice to help him, by controlling and torturing the soul of Tom’s recently departed father.  This leads to a climax and a classic confrontation between good and evil.  My only worry is that these books are beginning to delve into witchcraft, and this can be scary.
One comment, there were three or for times I thought "Why did the author write that?"  It seems he states somethings which are already obvious or assumed.

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Book Review: Beezus and Ramona by Beverly Cleary

Beezus and Ramona by Beverly Cleary, illustrated by Louise Darling, Morrow Junior Books, New York, 1955.
This is the first in the Ramona series, but we have already been introduced to the characters in the Henry books.  This is a good book about relationships, specifically sister relationships.  In this case there is a difference in age.  Beezus turns ten in the book, and Ramona is four.  She is in preschool.  Ramona is very head strong, and she is often “naughty.”  She insists on one book being read to her over and over, she sometimes inserts herself in conversation, and she often does things to make messes, or to get her way.  She arranges a party on her own.  She puts a doll in the over in imitation of Hansel and Gretel.  Beezus finds that there are many times she does not love her sister.  She finally comes to terms with this on her birthday when her mother and aunt talk about their relationship growing up.  This is very good in the Beverly Cleary fashion.

Monday, August 3, 2015

Music Review: Best of the Doobie Brothers: Live (1999)

 I have found myself humming and singing this music since I put this CD onto the computer and started playing it.  I could play this music over and over.  Some of this songs are what I grew up with; and I saw this group in concert when I was young.  Some of the enjoyable and familiar tunes are: "Listen to the Music", "Jesus is Just Alright", "What a Fool Believes", "Black Water" and "Long Train Running."  This music has a way to stick with you.  I especially love "Black Water" written by Pat Simmons.
Mississippi moon, won't you keep on shinin' on me
Old black water, keep on rollin'
Mississippi moon, won't you keep on shinin' on me
Yeah, keep on shinin' your light
Gonna make everything, pretty mama
Gonna make everything all right
And I ain't got no worries
'Cause I ain't in no hurry at all

And then the A' Capella part:
I'd like to hear some funky Dixieland
Pretty mama come and take me by the hand
By the hand, take me by the hand pretty mama
Come and dance with your daddy all night long
I want to honky tonk, honky tonk, honky tonk
With you all night long

This CD, where it is live, includes a couple of audience participation, and these places drag as the volume is less.   There music includes harmonica and violin along with the regular pieces of drum, guitar keyboard and bass.  I enjoy this type of music much more than what they are making today. 

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Movie Review: *^Minions (2015)

This movie sets out to tell us where the Minions come from, who play an important part in the "Despicable Me" movies.  Tony loved it.  But as for my part, I hated it.  I suggested we leave to Sheri, but Tony was having fun.  However he wasn't able to tell me why he liked it.  I think the producers had attention issues because the movie kept jumping form here to there without very clear connection between the plot pieces.  Sandra Bullock voiced the master criminal Scarlet Overkill.  This whole movie was just that, overkill.