Sunday, February 28, 2016

Dr Seuss Book Review: What Was I Scared Of?

this is the story of the pants with no one in side them, and the person who is scared of them.  They meet in the dark, which is scary enough, but then the pants with no one inside them was too much.   They then meet several more times, each more fearful than the time before; until the person realizes the pants are scared of him.  You see we are all scared of unusual things, but sometimes those things are not so scary after all.
Dr. Seuss has another wonderful story, with his own illustrations and rhymes.  This was originally published as part of "The Sneetches and Other Stories."  This is one of the other stories.  This book was originally published in 1961.

Music Review: Ella Fitzgerald: The Rodgers and Hart Songbook Volume I

This is Ella Fitzgerald singing songs form the 20s 30s and 40s.  You can tell the quality of Fitzgerald's vocals, a big band jazzy style.  However I am not much into this type of music.  It seems to get boring easily.  Rodgers and Hart wrote many songs for musicals together.  So the music here is representative of the early era of musicals.  I much prefer the music of today with the rousing melody's and cutting lyrics.

Saturday, February 27, 2016

Children's Books: Green Eggs and Ham

This is one of the most delightful children's books of all time.  It is a Beginner book form Random house written and art work from Dr. Seuss and copyright 1960.
It starts out with a very catchy beginning, and doesn't let go, I am Sam."  "Sam I Am."  The art work is precious with the facial expressions of our unnamed lead character; the way he sticks up his nose at the green eggs.  This book also has a very good theme.  Sometimes, if we try something we may find we actually like it, even though at first it is not appealing to us.

Movie Review: Three Coins in a Fountain (1954)

Her we not only have a romantic movie, but a romantic movie x three.  The introductory song implies that only one romance will be successful.  That only one coin will be selected and rewarded as three woman make a wish at the fountain.  We have two women working for a company, with very strict guidelines for relations between American employees and local employees.  Two women are working for this American company in Rome.  A third woman works for an American author, who is living in Rome for some time.  They all establish relationship, the first with a local coworker (the against the rules relationship.)  The coworker gets fired, and there goes his chances to be a lawyer.  The new woman, falls for a rich local.  She studies his life, to know what to like and say to win him.  And the third, our secretary has been in love with the author for many years, he just doesn't realize he loves her as well.  All these relationships are doomed in their way.  The first because of the rules, the second when she confesses what she has been doing, and the third when the author finds he does not have long to live, but there is small hope with medical procedures in the United States.  So which of the relationships will be rescued?
I enjoyed the characters, and the story line.  After listening to the song I didn't expect the ending.  This movie stars: Clifton Webb as the author John Shadwell, Dorothy McGuire as the secretary, Jean Peters as the new employee, Louis Jourdan as the rich local Prince Dino di Cessi, Maggie McNamara as the employee returning home and Rossano Brazzi as the local.

Children's Book Review: Danny and the Dinosaur

Danny and the Dinosaur, An I Can read Book, by Syd Hoff, Harper Collins, New York, 1958.
Danny visits the museum, and has quite the day.  One of the dinosaurs comes to life after a million years or so, and takes Danny for a ride through town.  They have to be carful not to topple buildings, but people can ride on his tail.  However the zoo keeper is concerned because everyone wants to look at the dinosaur, and not at the animals.  SO Danny takes the dinosaur home to show his friends.

Friday, February 26, 2016

Movie Review: ****Hail Caesar! (2016)

I found this movie totally entertaining.  I really loved the allusions to Jesus and Christianity.  The discussion of the religious person, a Catholic priest, protestant pries, Orthodox priest and rabbi was hilarious, but in the conversation was the importance of faith in Jesus Christ.  This is also a movie about the production of movies, which is always interesting.  Eddie Mannix, the movie studio president is played by Josh Brolin.  His job is to keep his actors out of trouble.  So when one actor comes up missing (kidnapped) his major task is to keep it from the papers.  Baird Whitlock (George Clooney) is that actor, playing a Roman Centurion in the times of Christ.  At the same time he is covering the pregnancy of DeeAnna Moran (Scarlett Johansson).  Another actor, Hobie Doyle (Alden Ehrenreich is a western actor, who is thrown into a period romance, along with all the nuance that gender offers.  It is the communists (mostly movie writers) who have stolen Whitlock, seeking compensation as the feel they have been underpaid for many years.  Whitlock actually goes for the communist spiel.  However when a major actor leaves the scene, with the money, boarding a Soviet submarine, he loses the money catching his dog.  It sinks into the ocean.  Doyle discovers the plot, and rescues Whitlock.  Moran finds a love and they become engaged, resolving the pregnancy issue.  They had thought she might adopt her own baby; but that would have been messy.
Underscoring the drama around the president, is an offer from Lockhead Martin, to go into management where he can really do some good.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Music Review: A Chorus Line: Original Broadway Cast Recording

This is a CD of the music of "A Chorus Line" a musical about stage dancers.  As you can imagine the music leaves something to be desired.  However there are a few silver linings.  "Nothing" which I first heard performed at our Broadway reviews, is my favorite.  It has a twist of humor that is always welcome.  And then "One" the most commonly played song from the musical is also very well done.  There is the original and then the reprise for the curtain call.  "Dance Ten, Looks Three" also has a very good message.  Sometimes we are just overly compulsive about looks.  Music by Martin Hamlisch and lyrics by Edward Kieban.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Music Review: The Secret Garden; A Musical: Original London Cast Recording

The Secret Garden; A Musical book and lyrics by Marsha Norman, music by Lucy Simon, Original London Cast recording, royal Shakespeare Company, 2001.  the music is presented superbly in this recording.  It is interesting that the order of songs is not the same as the American version of the musical.  Also some of the story of the musical is different than the book, changing the family relationship to two sisters rather than a  brother and sister, and also focusing more on the turmoil of the adults, particularly Archibald Craven dealing with the death of his wife, and his brother, Neville Craven, becoming overbearing as Archibald's son's health care.  The secret garden, in some magical way cures the son, and thereby restores the father to his son.  It is Mary who opens the garden and begins this path.  I really like the version here of "Hold On."  It is a special song.  However there are other good songs, including the discussion Archibald has with his wife, when he decides to return home.  The music here is better than the musical version I shared.  

Sunday, February 21, 2016

The Secret Garden - Full - Studio Playhouse - 2008

I brought home a recording of this, so decided I would watch the entire show.  There is much going on in this show, with ghosts and the living people.  The vocals are a bit pitchy at times, but they do tell a very nice story.  I know that Mary had to have a temper tantrum to not go to school, but I wasn't convinced.  I discovered the song, "Hold On" which was a Zions choir sang.  I love this song.  The children's story was written by Frances Hodgson Burnett.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

The Last Apprentice (12) I Am Alice

The Last Apprentice: I Am Alice by Joseph Delaney, illustrated by Patrick Arrasmith, Harper Collins Books, New York, 2014.  This story is told from the perspective of Alice, the friend of the apprentice Tom Ward.  Alice is the daughter of a bad witch (previously killed) and the Fiend.  She travels to the realm of the dark, to retrieve a knife, which Tom is to use to sacrifice Alice in order to destroy the Fiend.  In this book we see the afterlife of the damned, and the world in which they life.  It is a strange world, and Alice fights many of her old foes.  And there are some old foes who turn out to be on her side.   She even faces gods of the dark.  And of course there is her own mother, and water witches and creatures too many to mention.  Many of them are seeking revenge.  Thorne, Grimalkin's apprentice lost her life when her thumbs were removed becomes an ally, and then a betrayer, and then ally again.  They must travel into the throne room of the fiend, who of course is not there as he is bound.  This is a book of peril, and gross monsters.  Just when all is lost, Alice finds a most unusual ally.  We also understand a bit more where Alice's powers come from and who teaches her to use them.  I=She is always wary that if she uses them too much she will go to the dark side, a fate she hopes to avoid.

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Movie Review: ****^The Inn of the Sixth Happiness (1958)

This movie tells the heroic story of Gladys Aylward (Ingrid Bergman), missionary to China.  It was a struggle for her to get there, as no one thought she could survive, and then after arriving it was a struggle to stay, and tell her story, especially when the missionary who was her mentor passed away in a fall.  However she stuck, and became the inspector of feet.  The government was combating a custom of binding the feet of women, thereby making them crippled and dependent on a man.
The most important thing about this movie is Aylward escaping with over 100 orphans when the Japanese attack China at the start of WWII.  Aylward falls in love with a Chinese military officer, Captain Lin Nan (Curd Jurgens).  Her relationship with the ruling magistrate of the area where she spreads the gospel is very interesting.  Robert Donat portrays the Mandarin of Yang Cheng.  I very much enjoyed this movie, which is based on a true story.

Children's Book Review: One fish two fish blue fish, Dr. Seuss

One Fish two fish red fish blue fish, by Dr. Seuss (story and illustrations) Beginner Books of Random House, New York, 1960.
This is another nonsensical book from Dr. Seuss.  He only stays to fish for the first seven pages, and then gets back to fish for the last page.  However in between, including the fish, are a whole slew of silly creatures, some you can play a tossing game with their horns and some are all wet.  Some have long blue hair for combing, some like to sing or box or drink pink ink.  You don't know what creture will show up in a Dr. Seuss book.

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Movie Review: ****^Bridge of Spies (2015)

Tom Hanks is at his best in this movie as he portrays a lawyer, James Donovan, who is called upon to represent a Russian spy, Rudolf Abel (Mark Rylance) and as such gets tangled in the spying game as he takes the assignment to go to East Germany and arrange a transfer of the Russian spy for a U.S. U2 spy plane pilot, Francis Gary Powers (Austin Stowell), who was shot down over Russia.   This is an intriguing movie, and very entertainment.  It is also very historical as the Berlin Wall goes up at the time during the timing of these events, which puts an American student also in the mix of those for whom Donovan is also negotiating release.  The student was on the wrong side of the wall when the door was closed.  Alan Alda has a cameo part.  Steven Spielberg directs.  This is a good movie based on some history which is mostly forgotten.

Book Review: The Last Apprentice (9) Grimalkin The Witch Assassin

The Last Apprentice: Grimalkin the Witch Assassin, by Joseph Delaney, illustration by Patrick Arrasmith, Harper Collins Press, New York, 2013.
This book is told from a different perspective than most of the other Last Apprentice books.  Here we have the thoughts of  Grimalkin and her story.  We are introduced to a different character, Thorne, who is Grimalkins apprentice.  She and Agnes Sowerbutts rescue Grimalkin after she is poisoned by a creature from the dark, manufactured just to kill her.  Grimalkin must take refuge to keep the head of the fiend safe, as she has the task of keeping the head from falling into the wrong hands until they can figure a way to destroy the fiend for ever.  This task is daunting when most of the dark creatures want to restore the fiend so they can have more power.  She takes refuge in Malkin Tower, where the lumia witch sisters of the apprentice's mother have taken control.  One of the witches is becoming more human, while they other continues to fly like a dragon and is very formidable.  They are guarding Tom's trunks, left him by his mother, and in witch someplace is the secret to destroying the fiend.
This book does not bode well for those who help Grimalkin.  They are killed by forces of the dark.  One of the lamia witches is destroyed, Agnes Sowerbutts is tortured and killed, and then even Thorne dies when her thumb bones are removed.  Grimalkin then turns to Alice, to help restore her powers.  Grimalkin actually loses the fiend's head, but Alice helps her recover the head.  However Alice is more and more turning to dark magic.  Will she be able to stay form becoming dark forever?

Movie Review: Love Me Tender (1956)

This is Elvis' first movie, and he is surprisingly good.  It is also the only movie in which he played that he did not receive top billing.  The title of the movie was changed so as to accept Elvis' new hit single.  Elvis, Clint, is the younger of four brothers, who has stayed behind to mind the farm, while the other brothers go to the Civil War.  Those brothers are part of a confederate group which steal a federal payroll at the end of the war.  Not knowing what to do with the money, they take it home, and the oldest brother, Vance, (Richard Egan) plans to marry his girl, Kathy (Debra Paget).  However the family heard that the oldest brother had been killed, then the younger brother married the girl.  There is some quick adjustment, which doesn't go very well, because the love flame is still there between Kathy and Vance.  Added to this is the federals coming to get the money from the payroll.  Some of the other men involved in this heist get inside Clint's head, and turn him against Vance.  They want to get the money and run out West.  however Vance wants to turn the money over so as to negotiate their freedom.  As luck would have it, Clint shoots Vance, but his heart wasn't in it and it is not a fatal wound.  Clint comes running to his brother with grief, but ends up getting shot and killed by the men who had gotten inside his head.

Friday, February 12, 2016

Musical Movie Review: State Fair

I finally sat down to watch this movie, an found it delightful.  Jeanne Crain stars as Margy Frake, a young woman who just knows there is something better than her expected life with the farmer next door, and perhaps at the fair she will meet someone; and her brother Wayne (Dick Haynes) who is let down as his girl can't go to the fair.  I love the portrayal of their parents as they participate at the fair.  Mrs. Frake in the mince meat and pickle contest, and her husband in the swine contest.  It provides a very nice background.  Well of course both siblings meet people at the fair.  Margy meets Pat Gilbert (Dana Andrews) a reporter who is covering the fair, and writes about the mince meat competition.  Wayne meets Emily Edwards (Vivian Blake) a singer with a traveling group at the fair.  Harry Morgan, portraying a fair barker is instrumental in their meeting.   Wayne learns that sometimes city life and country life don't mix, as there are different values.  Only one relationship spills over into a relationship that lasts after the fair, which shows that sometimes things work out, and sometimes they don't.  However, this may be for the best as Wayne meets up with his girl.  Some of the music for this Rodgers and Hammerstein musical is lovely.  "Our State Fair" leads off, but then there is also "It Might As Well Be Spring" in which Margy sings of her expectation that something new is coming.  "It's a Grand Night for Singing" is a favorite.

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Book Review: The Last Apprentice 11: Slither

The Last Apprentice: Slither by: Joseph Delaney, illustrated by Patrick Arrasmith, (2013)
In this story we are introduced to new characters.  Way to the north live creatures who prey on humans for the most part, using their women as slaves for breeding and drinking their blood.  (Their favorite meal is blood.)  Slither is a Haizda Mage, meaning he controls an area to the south, where humans live, and feeds off the blood of the farmer’s children and animals.  He has incredible skills, to make himself large and small, as well as fighting skills, and he uses magical powers he derives from souls and from blood.  He has formed an agreement with one farmer where he only feeds from the animals, and leaves the daughters alone.  However when the farmer dies in an accident, things change.  He gives his oldest daughter to the mage as a slave, for an agreement to take the two young daughter to safe keeping.  Thus a traveling adventure begins. 
However things do not go well.  They are all taken captive.  Nessa, the oldest daughter saves the life of Slither, for which he rescues them.  However in doing so he kills a couple formidable foes.  Now he is sent to trial by fighting against a beast which has never been defeated.  Grimalkin joins him in this fight.  She is drawn to the area by a meteor with special metal. 
In this book, Delaney is more naturalistic than most of his other books, although he tend to this flavor.  This book, the description of the effects of a disease carried by poison in the talons of the beast is just too much.  It gets beyond disgusting.

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Final Osmond Family Concert (2008)

This is an excellent concert which features some old Osmond songs, some spiritual songs and The Mormon tabernacle Choir.  Marie seems to have some costume and mic issues but other than that it goes off without a hitch.  The highlight is the last two numbers where the older Osmond Brothers join in with ASL while the rest of the family sings.  This is a 50 year tribute to the Osmonds in entertainment.

Seals & Crofts - Full Concert - 11/02/72 - Hofstra University (OFFICIAL)

Even though this says full concert, it is only three songs, "Summer Breeze," "Humming Bird" and an instrumental country stomping song with Jim Seals on violin.  Even though short, these songs are plenty of fun.

Now 48: That's What I Call Music (2013)

If this is an example of where music is headed, I am disappointed.  So lets start with the good.  Katy Perry does a great job with "Roar."  This song will be played over and over.  There is another number one, "Blurred Lines" by Robin Thicke.  I did not care for this as much.  "Everything Has Changed" by Taylor Swift is also acceptable.  however the rest comes off to me as noise.  It is interested how music has changed.  As for Lady Gaga and Miley Cyrus I just don't get them.  Miley Cyrus sings "It's my body and I'll do what I want to."  She sounds like a spoiled two-year-old.

Picture Book Review: In a People House by Theo. LeSieg

In a People House, by Theo LeSieg (Dr. Seuss) illustrated by Roy McKie, Bright and Early Books,  Random House, New York, 1972.
This Dr. Seuss book is published under his pseudonym, Theo. LeSeig, his birth name spelled backwards.  The goal of this book was to introduce children to new words.  In this book a mouse invites his bird friend into a people house to see what is inside the house.  The see many wonderful things, clock, ball, broom, door and many more.  There viewing ends with a big crash, and then they remember there are people in the house who don't care for birds and mice in their house.  This book has the Dr. Seuss rhyming magic, and simple illustrations from Roy McKie although Seuss usually illustrated his own books.