Thursday, June 30, 2016

Music Review: Stevie Wonder: Definitive Collection

Stevie Wonder is a prodigy.  He went blind young, but even so he played muliple instruments and could sing.  This album is a collection of some of his best work.  Stevie Wonder has the Motown rhythm and has different styles of music.  Wonder used electronics and computers ahead of his time.
Included in this album are "I Just Called to Say I Love You"
I just called to say I love you
I just called to say how much I care
I just called to say I love you
And I mean it from the bottom of my heart

Other favorites are "Part Time Lover, "Superstition" (a great dancing song) and "For Once in my Life."  Another classic is "You Are the Sunshine of My Life"
You are the sunshine of my life
That's why I'll always be around, 
You are the apple of my eye, 
Forever you'll stay in my heart 

WIth classic lyrics such as this, and add the WOnder style, there is plenty to like in the collection.

Monday, June 27, 2016

Movie Review: ****Jurassic Park (1993)

This is an intriguing movie.  My grandson is into dinosaur movies.  I don't think this was the right one.  The beginning of this movie is all cute, but the Tyrannosaurus Rex gets lose, and it is no longer a kids movie.  I mean, how do you explain a man in the dinosaur mouth to your grandson.  But this movie has great action, in addition to the cute dinosaurs.  And the kids are rescued which is the important part.  Man, who ever knew dinosaurs could be so nasty.  I guess we all do, but we have never seen it.  This movie stars Sam Neill and Laura Dern as dinosaur experts, Jeff Goldblum as the probability expert, Richard Attenborough as the owner, Bob Peck as the animal hunter, Samuel Jackson as a computer tech, and Wayne Knight as the geek/bad guy who turns of the power to the fences and lets the havoc lose.


Sunday, June 26, 2016

Movie Review: ****Finding Dory (2016)

Just back from Finding Dory and had a good time with the grandkids.  We went to the sensitivity challenged showing, and a few of the kids had difficulty getting settled at the first, but everyone was accepting, and the settled in, and we all had a good time.  We had Skylar, Bronnie, Tony, Miranda and Sheri and I.  The show was entertaining with these sea creatures telling the story of how Dory (Ellen DeGeneres) found herself in the ocean not knowing where she was from.  Nemo (Hayden Rolence) and Marlin (Albert Brooks) go with Dory to find her parents.  We meet some new characters in this show, including the whale, Destiny (Kaitlin Olson) that taught Dory how to speak whale, and Hank (Ed O'Neill) the Octopus, really septipus because he lost one leg in the kid zone of the theme park.  There is plenty of peril, and strange twists, as Dory's quest takes her to a fish sanctuary, where Sigourney Weaver announces that the goal of the institute is the "rescue, rehabilitate and release."  There is a very cute scene where hank drives a baby carrier, and then later a truck.  This film talks about the importance of family, and coming home.

Book Review: Wild Animals of North America

Wild Animals of North America, National Geographic Society, Washington, D.C., 1960.
Every library has need of a picture book of animals, and this is ours.  I know it is old, but animals are animals.  I know most animals you can catch a video using the internet these days, but being able to browse through pages and see lots of animals does something for you.  This book has plenty, elk, bear, dolphins, deer, polar bear, fox, beaver, chipmunk and squirrels, possum, mountain lion, bats, whale, sea lion and seals, and hundreds more.  Tony and I love the pull this book out and look at pictures.

Friday, June 24, 2016

Music Review: Footloose Soundtrack

Footloose is a movie about wanting to dance.  It presents a high school where dancing has been outlawed, and what happens when new blood moves in, with different rules.  The movie soundtrack is an eclectic collection, with a few classics.  Kenny Loggins "Footloose" is one of the most popular and really carries the entire show.  Loggins also sings "I'm Free (Heaven Helps the Man)."  "Lets Hear it for the Boy" by Deniece Williams is very nice.  Holding Out for a Hero by Bonnie Tyler is in a similar vein.  Another highlight is "Waiting for a Girl Like You" by Foreigner.  This is a song you can listen to over and over and still be entranced.  There is a part in the soundtrack that the music gets too hard, but then it comes back to some very enjoyable songs.

Movie Review: ***^Zootopia (2016)

Zootopia          I was pleasantly surprised with this movie.  It was much different than I thought it would be.  I had in my brain something like a zoo, but this was about an animal land where animals lived in peace and harmony, until someone stirs the pot for their own political gain.  More than that, it was about a bunny who wanted to be a police officer, and having to fight her way through prejudices.  Her boss wanted to assign her as the meter maid.  However the bunny also has to deal with her own prejudices; her beliefs about what a fox could do.  Great fun, and the reminder about our prejudgements is important.  This is an animated Disney movie and includes the voice talents of Ginnifer Goodwin and Jason Bateman.  This movie is OK for families.  There are a couple scenes of animals going crazy violent.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Picture Book Review: Curious George Flies a Kite

Curious George Flies a Kite, Margret and H.A. Rey, Houghton Mifflin Company, Boston, 1958.
This is another very good story in the style of Curious George stories.  George is just too curious.  In this book he starts being curious about bunnies, and then about flying a kite.  His friend warns him that he is not large enough to hole the kite, but could that really be so?  When he tests this theory, he is launched with the kite.  How do you get down when you are flying with a kite way in the air?  Sometimes it takes some help.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Music Review: Niel Diamond: Touching Me, Touching You

In this 1969 album Neil Diamond presents nine songs.  Of the songs four are the work of others, and five are his own creation.  My thoughts is that the Diamond songs are terrific.  While the covers were performed better by others and are forgettable.  I enjoy all of Diamonds works.  Watch for the great baritone singing in "And the Singer Sings His Song."  It is so lovely and in Diamond's range.  The energy in "New York Boy" and "Holly Holy" just move me.  Of the Covers, "Both Sides Now" is the best.  This song from Joni Mitchell has a beautiful message.  

The Diamond songs are really beautiful.  They include: 
New York Boy
New York City, look at me now
Being stared at from behind the plow
Mississippi, don't get annoyed
I ain't no hippie, just a New York boy

And the Singer Sings His Song
Once, it was once
Long ago

And the singer sings his song
And the children dance along
And the singer sings his song
And we dance along
And the singer sings his song
And we dance along

Ain't No Way
Smokey Lady
and Holly Holy
Call the sun in the dead of the night
And the sun gonna rise in the sky
Touch a man who can't walk upright
And that lame man, he gonna fly
And I fly, yeah, And I fly

Holly holy love
Take the lonely child
And the seed
Let it be full with tomorrow
Holly holy

Movie Review: ****The Incredibles (2004)

The world of the Incredibles is fascinating.  We have a family, trying to live in obscurity, even with their super powers.  This is hard to do sometimes.  It is also hard to give up a previous life and try to be "normal."  Bob Parr aka Mr. Incredible (Craig T. Nelson) is faced with this problem.  When he has the chance to get back into the game, he takes the opportunity, unbeknown to his wife Helen Parr aka Elastigirl (Helen Hunt) and kids.  He goes off to an island to fight a villain robot.  However the robot is such that it learns from its opponent.  Syndrome (Jason Lee) is jealous of super heroes, and wants to extract revenge for being rejected.  He has been killing Supers with his robots, and has his eye on Mr. Incredible.  Mr Incredible has some success, but is captured by Syndrome.  Elastigirl discovers where he is, and is coming to the rescue.
The parent child interactions are well done.  All three children eventually have their own unique super powers and personalities.  Dash is fast, Violet creates protective bubbles, and Jack Jack discovers fire.  Another character Lucius Best aka Frozone (Samuel Jackson) is a family friend, and helps with their adventures.  The funniest line of the movie is when the monster is coming and he calls to his wife, "Honey, Where's my super suit?"

Picture Book Review: Curious George Gets a Medal

Curious George Gets a Medal, Margret and H.A. Rey, Houghton Mifflin Company, Boston, 1957.
Curious George is always able to get into trouble.  In this book one thing spirals into another.  First George wants to write a letter, but he gets ink on the carpet.  He needs to clean the carpet, with the hose and soap.  He floods the room, he needs to get the water out, so to the farmer's to borrow the pump, and a cow.  The farmers see him and give chase, so he hides, and jumps onto a truck going to the museum, where he sees coconuts on a tree.  He is hungry, and destroys an exhibit.  Now he is caught and in trouble.  However luck is on George's side.  He is going to test a rocket because he is the perfect size.
I like the way these stories roll form one adventure to another.  They are fun.

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Movie Review: Father of the Bride, Father of the Bride II

Father of the Bride movie has plenty of fun.  Steve Martin portrays George Banks, the father of the bride, who is having difficulty letting go of his daughter.  At the same time, he is selling his home as the family is down sizing, but he is having a hard time letting go of the house as well.  Diane Keaton stars as Nina Banks, and Martin Short as Franck, the wedding planner.  There is lots of fun.  Some of the best father scenes take place on the family basketball court.  When the demolishers show up to knock down the house, Steve Martin has a change of heart, and buys they house back, with a new mortgage.

Father of the Bride II is even more fun.  In this film we are presented with not only the daughter having a new baby, but also George's wife.  Robin Williams does a cameo as the gynecologist.  Martin Short is back to plan a new nursery as well as a baby party.  This movie is even funnier than the first, and shows parenting in a new light, as a grandfather, and father of a new baby.

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Father's Day Movies

Hook One of the best father's Day Movies is Hook starring Robin Williams as an older Peter Pan, who realizes his happy spot is being a father.

Beauty and the Beast A father and daughter show incredible love for each other.

Daddy Day Care features Eddie Murphy as a father who realizes that spending time with his son is more important than being part of the business rat race.

Finding Nemo stars Albert Brooks as Marlin, a father looking for his son.  He is helped by Dory (Ellen DeGeneres).

Finding Dory again stars Albert Brooks and Ellen DeGeneres, but we are introduced to Hank the Octopus (Ed O'Neill).

Elf features a young man (Will Carrol) who has been raised by en elf (Bob Newhart.)

The Sound of Music with Julie Andrews teaches us about fathering after widowhood.  Captain Von Trapp grows and learns to love again, which in turn leads to the family singing together.

Taken, Taken II and Taken III show fatherhood in a totally different light as Liam Neeson protects his daughter and his family

Father of the Bride, Father of the Bride II both have some very tender fathering scenes.  Of course with the marriage in Father of the Bride, this movie includes some rare pearls of wisdom from a father.

The Incredibles provide a very humorous look at a family who is struggling with controlling the super powers

Picture Book Review: Curious George Rides a Bike

Curious George Rides a Bike, by Margret Rey and H.A. Rey, Houghton Mifflin Company, New York, 1952.   This is by far my favorite Curious George book.  Not only does it tell a very nice story, right in its pages it tells how to make a boat, or a pirate hat our of newspaper.  I love that.  Her again we see the too curious George, What is the creek like? Will an ostrich really eat a trumpet? etc.  He gets into trouble, but when it comes to being a hero, George also knows how to do this.  

Friday, June 17, 2016

Music Review: Hugo Diaz: Folklore for Export

This is a music genre that probably does not appeal to most of the population, but I like it.  Hugo Diaz is an Argentine folklore singer.  He mostly plays harmonica and is accompanied by guitar.  There are no lyrics.  The only words are spoken, and seem to deal with musical direction rather than anything else.  Even so this has the Argentine style, with a little bit of the Tango style mixed in.  I enjoyed it and it  drove my wife crazy.

Children's Book Review: Curious George Takes a Job

Curious George Takes a Job,  by Margret Rey, illustrated by H.A. Rey, Houghton Mifflin Company, New York, 1946.  This is the first post war Curious George Book.  In fact he doesn't take one job but two jobs.  First he works as a window washer.  He is warned not to pay attention to anything going on inside the windows, but George is just too Curious.  They chase him for painting the inside room, but the two-page picture of the results of George's painting is marvelous.  I remember spending much time looking at the detail and the creativity in this picture.  Instead of chasing him, they should have stopped to admire his work, that is what I always felt.  Anyway, getting away George breaks his leg, and ends up in the hospital.  However, here the Man in the Yellow Hat discovers his presence and comes to save him, for a movie job.  

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Children's Book Review: Curious George

Curious George by Margret Ray, illustrated by H.A. Ray, Houghton Mifflin Company, New York, 1941.

In this book we are introduced to Curious George, and the Man in the Yellow Hat.  George's curiosity gets him caught.  He is curious about the hat, and while he tries it on, the man stuffs him in a bag.  He lets him out when the get on the ship, and George trying to be a bird ends of over board.  He finds lots of ways to get into trouble, like calling the fire department by accident, and grabbing a bunch of balloons which carry him into the air.  But the Man in the Yellow Hat is there to rescue him.  The story ends when he arrives at the zoo.

I love this character.  The illustrations are simple, but convey emotion.  This book has the makings of a classic.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Book Review: Ramona Forever by Beverly Cleary

Ramona Forever by Beverly Cleary, illustrated by Alan Tiegreen, Avon Books, New York, 1984.

Ramona is a very interesting character.  She is Beezus’ little sister, and seems to get in trouble.  Well she really blows it when she gets her baby sitter upset.  The babysitter’s rich brother (from working in the oil fields) comes home, and Ramona doesn’t like him because he teases her.  Ramona also thinks the babysitter doesn’t care for her.  She refuses to return, and the solution is for Beezus and Ramona to watch themselves. 
But things don’t end there.  Ramona’s aunt has a new boyfriend, and things get all turned upside down when the boyfriend becomes the fiancé and is the Uncle Ramona doesn’t like.  On top of this Ramona’s mother is pregnant.  This story has a build up to what has the making of a terrible wedding day.  I like these characters, and even though this book was written a few years ago. 

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Robin Williams Movies

Robin Williams is an iconic actor, and I have always enjoyed his movies.  Granted some I have enjoyed more than others.  However, Williams has always been superb.
Hook  One of Robin Williams' best movies, with a profound lesson on what it means to be a father.
The House of D Not one of Williams' best, but in this movie he acts with his daughter, Zelda.
The Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian.  In this film Williams portrays Teddy Roosevelt.  Williams does a fine job, but the movie is a bit over the top.  This movie features Ben Stiller.
The Night at the Museum  Ben Stiller plays the security guard, and Robin WIlliams, Teddy Roosevelt.
Good Will Hunting  For this movie Robin Williams won the Oscar for Best Actor in a Supporting Role.  Williams really is terrific.  He plays a psychologist.  However I have not written a review for this film as the language is not uplifting, in fact it is degrading.  However the scene where Williams talks about his wife's farting in her sleep, and explains what it means to be in love to the younger lad are great.
Father of the Bride: II  Plays the Russian baby doctor.
R.V.  Maybe over the top.

More to come

Saturday, June 11, 2016

Children's Book Review: Curious George Takes a Train Ride

This book again uses the formula from the founders of Curious George, Margret and H.A. Rey.  This book says illustrated in the style of H.A. Rey by Martha Weston.  This is a story based on the characters of the deceased authors.
This book is not quite as enjoyable as some.  It is relying too much on formula and not enough on telling a good story.  George causes trouble due to his curiosity.  This part is week here.  However in this book, true to form, George becomes a hero by saving a boy.

Friday, June 10, 2016

Children's Book Classic: Curious George Goes to a Chocolate Factory

Curious George Goes to a Chocolate Factory by Margret and H.A. Rey, Houghton Mifflin Company, Boston, 1998.
This is another in a series of spectacular books.  This book was published after the death of the couple Margret and H.A. Rey.  It is a story based on their character, and with their style illustrations.  Curious George is a monkey, whose curiosity often gets him into trouble.  However his four hands, and quick reactions sometimes can get him out of trouble.  That is the case here.  George accidentally turns the chocolate conveyor belt on fast.  He overwhelms the workers.  Only George's fast thinking, to step in and box the chocolates himself, saves the day.  He of course eats his favorites, but at least no chocolates are falling on the floor.  I love Curious George.

Sunday, June 5, 2016

Movie Review: ***^ Captain America: Civil War

This battle has lots of violence.  It pits Avengers against Avengers, as is the plan of Zemo (Daniel Bruhl).  His family was killed in fall out from past episodes of the Avengers battling evil.  Now he wants revenge.  Fall out from Avenger heroics has lead the United Nations to want to control the Avengers.  Differences in opinion cause the initial rift between the two groups.
Zemo manipulates people and things to bring Winter Soldier (Sebastian Stan) and finds the secret clues to trigger his evil personality.  Captain American (Chris Evans) and Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.) are on a collision course.  With some new and some old Avengers taking sides.  This includes Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson), Ant Man (Paul Rudd), Falcon (Anthony Mackie), War Machine (Don Cheadle), Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner) and introducing Black Panther (Chadwick Boseman.)  Even Spider Man (Tom Holland) gets into the action.  His youth attracted Tony and I must admit his character brought humor to a movie that was really action-packed, violent and dark.