Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Book Report: Complete National Parks of the United States

Complete National Parks of the United States by Mel White, National Geographic, Washington, D.C., 2009.
Every home needs to have a book that details the National parks.  This is a reference book.  This is a collection of not only the national parks, but also the monuments, historic sites, memorials, seashores etc.  The subtitle says, "Featuring 400+ Parks, Monuments, Battlefields, Historic Sites, Trails, Recreation Areas, and Seashores.  This is a reference book.  For us it replaces the National Park from Grolier Book, which had become dated, and then moldy.  However it was a larger size, and consequently had larger and better pictures.  That book only featured the National Parks.  This included much more.
This book is organized into regions.  Each regions is about four or five states.  So to find the park you want, you have to first find the region it is in, and then look further from there.  There is no index to make searching quicker.  The pictures are generally good, but usually small.  There are some two-page pictures which are very nice.  This book only gives an overview of the parks.  After finding the park you want to visit, more research would be needed.  However it is good to spark an interest in a particular area.

Movie Review: ***^The Jungle Book (2016)

The animated version of the Jungle Book was not my favorite Disney movie.  However this presentation was new and very entertaining.  The story did not follow the book, nor the original Disney totally and the changes were well received.  The action can be very intense.  Shere Khan (Idris Elba) is very mean and ruthless.  Mowgli (Neel Sethi) is not totally helpless.  Although he is encouraged to stifle his human creativity, it is this that saves him in the end.  Balou (Bill Murray) adds a breath of fresh air to a movie that would have been too intense without his addition.  Bagheera (Ben Kingsley) provides the stability and wisdom of many years.  It was Bagheera who found Mowgli, and brought him to the wolves.  It is also Bagheera who advises Mowgli to defeat Shere Khan by fighting like a human.  King Louie (Christopher Walken) is probably the scariest character of all.  He is just so big.  However, when your house comes tumbling down it is not good.  Kaa (Scarlett Johansson) the scary snake has an hypnotic quality, as Johansen does in real life.
This movie was enjoyable.  Tony wanted to go so we took him.  I think he enjoyed himself.

2012 Birthday Upload: "Wayne Newton: Live In Concert" - May 23rd, 1989

This is a full concert from Wayne Newton.  It is fascinating.  He is not shy about his Indian heritage.  From the concert you can understand how he is called Mr. Entertainer.  He doesn't sing original material, but he takes other's material, and makes it into a very fine show.  No wonder he has been entertaining to sold out shows in Las Vegas for many decades.
Wayne Newton Biography

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

TV Review: Alfred Hitchcock Presents

I have been enjoying the Alfred Hitchcock presents, first season on Netflix.  There are some very interesting stories, and an introduction to many actors in their early years.  There are spy movies, murder movies, strange things and some things not so strange.  There is revenge, against the wrong person.  Christmas is really good where a parolee is hired to be Santa Clause.  We see a new version of Anne Borden, where it says the younger sister committed the murder, and Anne took the blame.  There is much to enjoy here.  There are 39 episodes, all 24 minutes with a one minute introduction by Alfred Hitchcock.  Great fun, just for the entertainment value without having to think too much.  I can't get Tony too interested, but coming from the 1950s era you don't have to worry about language, or bad morals.  They do show macabre things from time to time.

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Book Review: Library of Souls: The Third Novel of Miss Peregrine's Peculiar Children

Library of Souls by Ransom Riggs, Quirk Books, Philadelphia, 2015.
This is the third and final installment of this series of books illustrated with old and unusual photographs.  At the end of the last book, Addison the talking bull dog had saved Emma and Jacob from the Blights.  Jacob had discovered he could talk to Hollowghasts, which ability saved his life.  However this ability is new, and not reliable.  A Hollowghast has attached to Jacob, and follows him around.  The three are on a quest to save their Ymbrynes, women who are master peculiars and and can turn into birds, from the blights who have taken them prisoner.  They follow them, and in so doing find a loop of imprisoned peculiars.  But the Blight stronghold is well protected.  They also learn more of the conflict between blights and Ymbrynes, and we meet the brothers of Miss Peregrine, who are responsible for the troubles of the peculiars, in their quest to find the Library of Souls, and in harvesting people's souls which leaves the people benumbed, and is addicting to other peculiars.  Caul is the brother who is pure evil, and the leader of the blights.  He wants to capture Jacob, whose special powers will allow him to see the souls so he can make himself all powerful and become the ruler of the world.  Bentham, the second brother is torn.  At times he is helping Jaco, and at times he is helping his brother Caul.
I really enjoyed these characters.  It is also interesting how the most feared enemy of the peculiars becomes their ally.  However everyone's abilities are needed in the end, even those of the smallest Peculiar Olive, who has enough strength the help them float away when a loop is imploding.
This world of Peculiars, Blight, Ymbrynes and Hollowghasts is confusing.  Of course there are normals in the mix as well, but the story is interesting and the characters engaging.  This provides a very good read.

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Movie Review: A League of Their Own

This is another of those must see movies because of its portrayal of the overcoming of sexism.  A women's league was organized to provide baseball entertainment during WWII because too many of the regular players were at war.  The women showed they were able to play hardball at a high level.  This movie is about two siblings, Dottie (Geena Davis) and Kit (Lori Petty).  Dottie and Kit have a pretty good sibling rivalry going on, as they try to show the other up.  At first they are on the same team, Kit pitching and Dottie catching.  However due to a trade, they meet opposite each other in the world series.  However Dottie has gone home as her husband returned from the war.  However she changes her mind and comes back for the last game.  It is close, and Kit runs through a stop sign creating a collision at home for the winning run.  She crashes into Dottie, and she drops the ball.  Others starring include Madonna and Rosie O' Donnell.  Tom Hanks stars as the manager, who at first takes it as a joke, but eventually comes around.  He actually forms relationships with the women and cares about them.

Movie Review: ***^The Reading Room (2005)

This is a great feel good movie.  William (James Earl Jones) when his wife dies, takes her challenge to establish a reading room where he grew up.  He became a successful businessman, and the obstacles to his reading room are many.  The community doesn't really want him, the pastor doesn't trust him, he is mugged, his car stolen, and the reading room burned down.  Everything goes against him.  Where will he find the character to stick to it.
This again is a movie about people changing.  Sometimes the people most changed are those who are the changers.

Movie Review: ****^Antwone Fisher

Some movies are such that everyone needs to see them.  This is one such movie.  This is a movie about finding where you belong.  About finding family.  And about coming to terms with your past.
Antwone Fisher (Derek Luke) is a struggling Navy Seaman.  He struggles because he is angry, and everything seems to sound racist.  Dr. Jerome Davenport (Denzel Washington) is the psychologist assigned to fix the situation.  This movie is one of those where the fixer becomes the fixed.  Atwone's girlfriend, Cheryl Smolley (Joy Bryant) shares some of Fisher's struggles, and travels with him to find his family.
He does find them.  He discovers his mother is not in a position to be a mother, due to drug addiction.  However he finds his father's family (his father was murdered by his mother) and they did not know of Antwone.  However they accept him into the family, and give him a place of honor.